The Promises and Paradoxes of Performance‐Based Bureaucracy

Donald P. Moynihan

in The Oxford Handbook of American Bureaucracy

Published in print October 2010 | ISBN: 9780199238958
Published online January 2011 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks of American Politics

The Promises and Paradoxes of Performance‐Based Bureaucracy

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This article begins by exploring the adoption of performance management systems, scouring the best research available to understand why results-based reforms have proven so popular. The article then turns to scholarship that addresses the question of implementation. It deals with four possible response strategies available to bureaucrats and contractors (whom are collectively referred to as agents) in the face of performance-based bureaucracy: passive, political, perverse, and purposeful. Moreover, the critique that values cherished in a democracy can be lost in performance-based management, and its strengths and weaknesses are presented. It is also useful to note three additional and relevant counter-criticisms to the value-based critique of performance-based bureaucracy. It further suggests a variety of ways that researchers can advance the understanding of performance-based bureaucracy, most especially by providing evidence on how the introduction of performance information changes the social processes of governance.

Keywords: performance management; performance-based bureaucracy; agents; bureaucrats; democracy; governance; reforms

Article.  11035 words. 

Subjects: Politics ; Public Administration ; US Politics

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