Conference Publication Details
Mandatory Fields
F. Conaty
European Group for public Administration, Annual Conference 2014
Managing differing performance objectives in NPO/Public Sector collaborative settings - observations on performance management and management control systems in a human service setting
Optional Fields
NPO NPO Performance Management Collaborations Hybrids
Purpose - In recent times there has been a significant increase in the prevalence of NPOs engaged in collaborative undertakings most notably with the Public Sector. The presence of multiple and complex stakeholder sets with differing outcome perspectives, characteristic of such settings, coupled with a social constructionist framing of performance, brings a particular difficulty for managing and understanding performance dynamics. This paper reports on a study of the relational dynamics between differing stakeholder objectives and the structures and processes of the performance management systems (PMS) and management control systems (MCS) in an NPO/Public Sector collaborative setting. Methodology/approach - An inductive approach is employed grounded in a field case study of a substantive NPO operating in collaboration with a Public Sector organisation in Ireland. Data and observations were gathered and corroborated using two primary approaches: the conduct of semi-structured interviews with senior and frontline managers of the NPO, and an examination of the organisationís procedural policy manuals, systems documentation, strategic plans, and service contract documentation supplemented by a review of the NPO and relevant public service legal and policy context in Ireland. Findings - While overarching stakeholder objectives were found to be largely similar, the presence of tensions between differing stakeholder objective priorities were clearly present. The findings point to complex solutions to managing performance in such settings in particular the use in discrete performance areas of cohabiting mixed control typologies. The analysis of the data also points to two potentially cohabiting and interactive behavioural dynamics: firstly, the design and component elements of the PMS and MCS structures and processes reflect the presence of and tensions between multiple stakeholder objectives, and secondly, stakeholder objective expectations are in turn moderated through the use of PMS and MCS technologies. Of particular theoretical interest is the observation that the first of these behavioural dynamics finds resonance in contingency theory while the second does so with institutional and resource dependency theories. Originality/value - With the increasing importance of NPO/Public Sector collaborations, this study, as one of the few field studies focusing on this area, provides valuable insight and observations supporting the case for substantive research on the role of PMS and MCS in addressing tensions between differing stakeholder objective priorities and their impact on the design and operation of PMS and MCS; further, this study points to the potential utility of a multiple or hybrid theoretical approach to the study of organisations in collaborative settings with constituencies of multiple stakeholders. Limitations - This study is grounded in a single collaborative field study and generalisations from the findings and observations are qualified both in regard to the single case and the sector. Further, this study limited its focus on three primary stakeholders and it is likely that stakeholder objectives are constantly being reformed over time and through continuous experiential and social processes. A longitudinal study would be required to capture the manner in which PMS and MCS are consequentially deployed and impacted upon and the inclusion of additional relevant stakeholders such as management is warranted.
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