Journal Article

On Target?—Public Sector Performance Management: Recurrent Themes, Consequences and Questions

Simon Guilfoyle

in Policing: A Journal of Policy and Practice

Volume 6, issue 3, pages 250-260
Published in print September 2012 | ISSN: 1752-4512
Published online February 2012 | e-ISSN: 1752-4520 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/police/pas001
On Target?—Public Sector Performance Management: Recurrent Themes, Consequences and Questions

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Bevan and Hood's 2006 article, ‘What's Measured is what Matters: Targets and Gaming in the English Public Healthcare System’, provoked debate about the effect of the imposition of numerical targets within the NHS, and exposed examples of perverse incentives and behaviours that arose as a result of management by numbers. Using their article as a starting point, this article seeks to identify common features of target-based performance management systems, as well as examine resultant behaviours. The article traces the political antecedents of the target culture within the public sector, and highlights recurrent themes with a view to understanding why this methodology is so pervasive, despite there being a growing body of evidence pointing towards an array of unintended consequences. It draws on reviews of Bevan and Hood's article, and considers the relevance of their work and a range of related research to the UK public services context.

Journal Article.  5271 words. 

Subjects: Policing

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