Jan 15, 2019 in Economics

Factors Affecting Public Management Essay


The context in which public managers operate is quickly transforming, and it is significantly different from that contemplated by early scholars. Public organizations are anticipated to coordinate amongst themselves, with non-governmental organizations, and with citizen organizations, and to utilize contemporary technology to manage effectively and strategically the delivery of services. Public managers function under high pressure to employ resources effectively, while international forces, in the structuring of delivery of service, leverage markets. As a field, public management seems to deal with several difficulties. Scholars have regarded it as a new field, with slowly developing approaches and norms to management. Concerns about nomenclature have hindered the intelligible evaluation of public management research, because much of what many people regard as public management has factually been categorized as field of scholarship. Based on this background, this paper offers three definitions of public management, and discusses the crucial factors affecting public management. In addition, the paper defines public performance, and decribes forms of measures that public managers can use in the assessment of organizational performance. 

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Definitions of Public Management

Fernandez & Rainey (2006) defined public management as carrying out management responsibilities associated with policy execution in publicly reinforced societies or programs. Fernandez & Rainey (2006) uses policy execution to differentiate public sector management from private sector management. Nevertheless, both private sector and public sector managers must know how to utilize different sets of tools. 

According to Verhoest, Roness, Verschuere, Rubecksen, & MacCarthaigh (2010), public management refers to those ways in which management in government and non-profit organizations resemble those of private sector. Consequently, they imply that management tools appropriate in public and private sector have the same role of maximizing effectiveness and efficiency. Verhoest, Roness, Verschuere, Rubecksen, & MacCarthaigh’s (2010) definition seems to contrast with public administration studies that focus on the cultural and social drivers of government, which many scholars agree make it different from private sector. 

Pollitt & Bouckaert (2011) viewed public management as a combination of the generic management literature and research in public administration. According to Pollitt & Bouckaert (2011), public management did not emerge as domain of scholarship, but instead as means of policy schools differentiating themselves from public administration. 

Factors of Influencing Public Management

Politico-Administrative Reforms

Pollitt & Bouckaert (2011) argued that various components of the political system and the structure of a country do not essentially form a homogeneous and an internally consistent system. Instead, these elements of the political system operate nearly independently of each other. In certain occasions, these components counteract each other resulting in what Pollitt & Bouckaert (2011) defined as institutional dissonance. The independent and inconsistency nature of the political system, and state structure, can either impede change or represent a significant source of change. Consequently, this makes the drawing the broad picture very difficult, because the varying components of the politico-administrative system might have a different impact on the public management reform, or the organization of the state as whole.

Pollitt & Bouckaert’s (2011) analysis of the politico-administrative factors might explain some form of general degree of reforming capacity, or some lines of influence on the contents and selections of options within a reform policy. According to Pollitt & Bouckaert (2011), certain factors can be comprehended as influencing the reforming capability. This implies that they might be considered as impeding or facilitating public management reforms in relation to the comparative ease with which the reforms can be carried out in a certain politico-administrative context.  Other factors can also be comprehended as remarkably affecting the selection of alternative within the larger reform policy. 

In relation to a particular component of public management concerning the modernization reforms, one would argue that the centrifugal of political party systems work majorly in the direction of fragmenting the contents of reform packages into inconsistent and juxtaposed provisions that are likely to be productive of any considerable impacts (Fernandez & Rainey, 2006). Examples of modernization reforms referred to include the introduction of performance measurement and results-based budgeting, which were advocated and attempted at several times.  

Public-Sector Task Environment

Public-sector environment comprises of forces that are generally outside the control of public organization. Some of the noticeable forces include: (1) economic growth, national plans, government revenue, national plans, and budgetary allocations priorities; (2) public sector regulations and rules; (3) education sector plans and priorities; (4) national political factors, social factors and client groups; and (5) poaching of skilled personnel by the private sector (Pollitt & Bouckaert, 2011).  

In any organizations, human beings are considered as the prime asset. Public management, similar to private sector organizations, requires adequate personnel. The nature of the personnel, in terms of education, socio economic status and political status, of determines the public sector management (Poister, 2010). The poaching of skilled managers by the private sector apparently cripples the public sector management. Apparently, the primary reason why skilled labor force abandon public sector is due to low salaries and insufficient benefits. Largely, this might be because of slow economic development, declining government revenue, and structural adjustment restrictions to allot increase pay to public sector personnel. 

According to Poister (2010), public organizations are reliant on the quantity and quality of the educational sector products. Significant debates take place within educational sector, and among the directorates of national planners and personnel, which line institutions in the public sector are excluded from. According to Poister (2010), these influence the manpower that should be trained, and the skill levels graduates need to have. If the education sector produces graduates with necessary management skills, then public sector management is likely to be successful. The reverse is also true: unskilled managers, who are products of the education sectors, are also likely to hinder effective public sector management. 

Power Distance

According to Poister (2010), public management reforms might not result in any significant change in the public sector without making changes in the administrative culture. In this context, there are two forms of administrative cultures: culture as an interpersonal relationship, and organizational culture. As an interpersonal relationship, culture is the rapport between juniors and superiors in bureaucracy, whereas organizational culture is the rapport between the citizen and bureaucrats (Kloot & Martin, 2000). The relationship between subordinates and supervisors is often characterized by the degree of power distance. With regard to public sector organization, power distance is the imbalanced rapport between subordinate and senior staffs. Public societies are likely to witness success if power distance is low in bureaucracy. Low power distance implies that both upper (senior) level and lower (junior) level have equal roles in establishing and attaining organizational objectives (Kloot & Martin, 2000). Some of the countries with low power distance include USA, UK, New Zealand, and Scandinavian countries, which imply that public management in such countries is likely to be successful. Consequently, all these nations have been capable of reforming their public bureaucracy along new public management (NPM) work culture (Kloot & Martin, 2000). 

Bureaucratic Behavior

In connection to power distance, mentioned above, bureaucratic behavior can be regarded as an administrative culture (Kloot & Martin, 2000). The perceptions, attitudes and thinking of bureaucrats towards individuals have a significant effect on offering customer customer-oriented services and goods. Serving the public first is the motivation for establishing public sector organizations, and one of the essential aspects of public management. Principally, a philosophy of work that is developed based on public management reputes the public as consumers, and not as subjects. With such an approach, public authorities develop affirmative attitudes and to the public. If the publics are subjected to positive treatment, they develop loyal behavior and obedience towards public authorizes. According to Fernandez & Rainey (2006), bureaucrats seem to maintain the status in the society, and citizens have to be loyal towards administrators. As such, they often do not regard citizens as customers while offering public services 

Performance Management 

Kloot & Martin (2000) defined performance management as a term used in describing various managerial activities that are designed to measure, monitor, and modify the various aspects of organizational and individual performance through management controls of different types. According to Kloot & Martin (2000), performance management involves the comparing the performance of the organization with the individual performance. For the purposes of this study, organizational performance management will not regard the aspects of respective performance, including personal development and appraisals.

In public management, performance management is a managerial activity critical in promoting well-performing service delivery and reform management. The motivation for enhanced performance in public management has led to a result-orientation and cost consciousness in majority of OECD countries. According to Poister (2010), public sector performance management concerns overseeing the success of public programs, policy or projects in order to attain their objectives, and to secure the anticipated benefits. Consequently, Kloot & Martin (2000) defined performance management in public management context as activities of public agencies related to planning, implementation, reviewing, assessment, and reporting or the effectiveness of policies, and programs and projects. 

Public Sector Performance Management Measures

According to Kloot & Martin (2000), there is no one-size-fit-all performance management technique. Nevertheless, public managers can learn from the various trends in organizational performance management that have attained a high level of degree of unanimity amongst their users. The various forms of performance measurement techniques include pre-controls, concurrent controls and post-controls. 

Pre-control Performance Measurement.  Pre-control performance measurements in public sector include strategic management, and operational planning (Poister, 2010). A strategy refers to a series of decisions made in an organization that determines organizational objectives, priorities, and overall directions. A strategy essentially repositions the public organization in relation to its external environment (Poister, 2010). In public management, it is common for strategic plans to be submitted by publicly financed organizations to governments for scrutiny and endorsement on a yearly basis. Operational plans are also pre-controls and offer detailed guidance on the different ways in which organizational subunits will contribute to the attainment of strategic aspirations. Planning is crucial requirement for efficient organizational performance management (Poister, 2010). 

Concurrent Performance Measurement. The various concurrent measurement techniques include balanced scorecards and dashboards. According to Verhoest, Roness, Verschuere, Rubecksen, & MacCarthaigh (2010), a dashboard refers to tool that tracks the effectiveness of services provided by a public organization and holds the managers accountable for the delivery of services. The dashboard has been implemented in the City of Atlanta by the local government (Pollitt & Bouckaert, 2011). Public organization can develop a strategic plan based on the on the input from stakeholders and citizens. Performance objectives are then set for all the public organization segments based on the plan. The dashboard will enable public managers to track the performance against the established targets on a continuous basis. The public manager can hold meetings monthly, weekly or yearly in order to appraise the organizational progress against the established targets (Poister, 2010). If necessary, the manager makes operational fine-tuning on the targets. In most public organizations, such as in the City of Atlanta, the dashboard is mainly organized around primary strategic goals of the organization. Within each strategic goal, there are facilitating strategies helping in the achievement of the primary goals. The dashboard trickles down through the supporting strategies to the performance measures. According to Fernandez & Rainey (2006), besides measuring performance, dashboard assists a public organization and sub-divisions to be transparent and accountable to citizens. They contribute to organizational transparency by making performance goals recognized by everyone. 

The second concurrent measurement technique is the balanced scorecard. Fernandez & Rainey (2006) defined balanced scorecard as a collection of measures directly related to organizational strategy. The balanced scorecard enabled managers in assessing the organization from four different angles: customer knowledge, financial performance,, learning and development, and internal business processes. Public manager will have to determine what is necessary in guaranteeing the delivery and sustainability of the strategy, and in monitoring progress in terms of the four dimensions. According to Fernandez & Rainey (2006), the individual measures in these dimensions are utilized in the communication of the strategy, allocation of responsibilities, and in monitoring of progress. Despite being designed for the private sector, the scorecard can be applied to public sector. The experience of New Zealand of applying the balanced scorecard in Government is proof of this. 

Post-Control. Post-control performance measures include reporting, audit, and inspection. Public organizations are at least necessitated to provide an account for their performance to their financing bodies and governments (Kloot & Martin, 2000). Public sectors are also necessitated to have efficient internal audit systems. Several public organizations, such as Police, Social Services and Schools are subject to occasional inspection by agencies. There audit reports are made known to the public in order to determine performance.


Various factors, including, politico-administrative, public sector task environment, power distance, and bureaucratic behavior, influence public management. The autonomous and inconsistent nature of the political system, and state structure, can either inhibit change or epitomize a significant source of change. Public organizations are likely to experience success if the power distance is low in bureaucracy. The perceptions, attitudes and thinking of bureaucrats towards individuals have a significant effect on offering customer customer-oriented services and goods. Public performance can be measured using balanced scorecard, and dashboard. 



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