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Inter-institutional performance management: performance indicators at organizational boundaries

Special issue call for papers from International Journal of Public Sector Management

The public sector aims to achieve multiple outcomes at different hierarchical levels. Meanwhile, different units at the same hierarchical level can consider different outcomes to be important to them. Ideally, goal congruency exists between different goals set by units within the public sector organization, but this might not always be the case. For example, the General Accounting Office (1997, p. 6) has reported that “mission fragmentation” is common at the federal government level in the USA, and it is difficult to get stakeholders to think beyond their own program operations and consider the diversity of activities needed for the common outcome (Rajala et al., 2018).

The theme of inter-institutional performance builds upon paradoxes of performance management (Garlatti et al., 2018). Van Thiel and Leeuw (2002) discuss how the performance paradox described by Meyer and Gupta (1994), a well-known problem in business firms, occurs in public sector organizations. Meyer and Gupta’s central idea is that there is a weak correlation between performance indicators and performance itself (Meyer and O’Shaughnessy 1993) since performance indicators run down over time. They, in fact, lose their value as measurements of performance and can no longer discriminate between good and bad performers. As a result, the relationship between actual and reported performance declines. Van Thiel and Leeuw (2002) claim that the paradox is not only recurrent in public sector organizations, but that the over-comprehensive mission of public sector organizations and the absence of a clear performance bottom-line are likely to reinforce the paradox (Fountain, 2001; Torenvlied, 2000; LeGrand, 1991).

The performance of governing networks, which are essential to the delivery of many public goods and services, is challenging to assess. Individual public organizations often operate with high levels of autonomy (Provan et al. 2007). Rigid limits imposed by laws, traditions, procedures, norms, and habits, can discourage organizations from collaborating in the design and implementation of performance measures (Weiss 1998), although Minassians (2015) argues that hybridized environments, which involve complex organizational linkages between public, private, and nonprofit players, characteristically exhibit high levels of collaboration in processes related to the design and implementation of performance measures. Two problems seem most prominent when it comes to collaborating in the design and use of performance indicators. First, there is little knowledge about the role that administrative scale plays in the use of performance measures (Minassians and Roy, 2018). Second, accountability is a particularly complex issue for collaborations because it is not often clear whom the collaborative is accountable to and for what, since multiple stakeholder perceptions typically compete in defining results and outcomes (Bryson et al., 2006).
This special issue seeks to advance our understanding of performance measurement and management in inter-institutional settings, providing theoretical and empirical contributions. Specific themes include (but are not limited to) the following:

  • Which contextual drivers and barriers influence the adoption of shared performance measures in inter-institutional, cross-sectoral and multi-level settings?
  • How can shared outcome measures be successfully implemented in inter-institutional, cross-sectoral and multi-level settings?
  • Which factors lead to effective use of performance information in inter-institutional, cross-sectoral and multi-level settings?
  • How can organizational performance in inter-institutional, cross-sectoral and multi-level settings be linked to budget decision-making and allocation choices?
  • Which leadership features influence performance measurement and management in inter-institutional, cross-sectoral and multi-level settings?

Submission and Deadlines

  • Two to four-page paper proposals can be submitted to the editors before October 31, 2019, at: [email protected]
  • The editors will decide which proposals should be accepted and then those authors are encouraged to submit a complete paper.
  • Final papers are due no later than February 29, 2020.
  • The blind review and revision process will be finalized by June 30, 2020.
  • Final manuscripts must be submitted by August 31, 2020.
  • The special issue will be published early 2021.


For further information or if you have any questions, please contact any of the following:


Andrea Bonomi Savignon
University of Rome “Tor Vergata”, Italy
[email protected]

Sabine Kuhlmann
University of Potsdam, Germany
[email protected]

Denita Cepiku
University of Rome “Tor Vergata”, Italy
[email protected]
Marco Meneguzzo
University of Rome “Tor Vergata”, Italy
[email protected]
Hazel Goodes
Emerald Publishing
[email protected]