Research

Local Government Management and Performance: A Review of Evidence

The paper entitled, "Local Government Management and Performance: A Review of Evidence" reports on a joint research study led by Professor Richard M. WALKER , Chair Professor of Public Management (City University of Hong Kong) and Professor Rhys ANDREWS (Cardiff University). The study was awarded the 2015 Radin Award for Best Paper published in the Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory (JPART).

The study was funded by Professor Walker's Start-up Grant. The project aimed to build a comprehensive dataset on management and performance in public organisations to conduct integration studies. Working with a team of research staff members, the search processes initially resulted in over 7,000 articles on public administration discipline. These were whittled down to just under 250 articles that empirically examined questions of management, organisation and performance in public organisations, and over 7,000 variables were coded. Work on this dataset is now exploring questions about the appropriate size for a public organisation and how it affects performance. Other studies will follow on questions of strategy, networking and representative bureaucracy.

The dataset forms one of the key resources in the integration laboratory and the Laboratory for Public Management and Performance. Complementary work using bibliometric techniques is now being conducted.

The 2015 Radin Award Selection Committee included Jocelyn Johnston, Chair (American University), Jeremy Hall (Rutgers University), Deanna Malatesta (Indiana University), Kathy Quick (University of Minnesota) and Jessica Sowa (University of Baltimore). The Selection Committee said:

The award committee selected this impressive piece of scholarship for several reasons. To begin with, the article was ambitious in scope. The authors performed a painstaking assessment of the current state of knowledge regarding the relationship between management and performance (the management–performance hypothesis) in the local government context. Covering 40 years, and analysing 86 articles, Walker and Andrews noted that although British and American settings have informed much of this body of research, theoretical perspectives have ranged widely. Integrating studies that rely on economic theories, contingency theories and resource-based theories, and that range from early work in the 1970s informed by Elinor Ostrom and Pressman/Wildavsky to large-N quantitative analyses from recent years, the authors conclude that the evidence from their meta-analysis points most persuasively to the positive impacts of planning, staff quality and personnel stability on local government performance. Less clarity emerges regarding the influence of representative bureaucracy, strategy and networking on local performance. Through their laudable efforts, Walker and Andrews have performed a great service to scholars of public management and local government.

JPART is the official journal of the Public Management Research Association. It is the No. 1 journal in the category of Public Administration with a five-year Impact Factor of 3.574, according to the 2015 Journal Citation Reports® (Thomson Reuters, 2015). The Award was presented to Professor Walker at the June 2016 Public Management Research Conference at Aarhus University, Denmark.