How electoral incentives shape performance measurement efforts

AuthorSusan M. Miller
Published date01 September 2017
Date01 September 2017
How electoral incentives shape performance
measurement efforts
Susan M. Miller
Department of Political Science, University of
South Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina
Susan M. Miller, Department of Political
Science, University of South Carolina,
349 Gambrell Hall, 817 Henderson Street,
Columbia, SC 292084114, USA.
Although scholars have assessed how the electoral connection of
legislators and chief executives affects their support for perfor-
mance measurement, we know less about how electoral considera-
tions might influence agency administratorsfocus on performance
measurement. I suggest that independently elected administrators
attention to their agency's performance measurement system may
be conditional on the likelihood that their efforts in this area will
help them realize their electoral goals. Because there is a greater
electoral incentive to focus on performance issues when govern-
ment performance is deficient, elected administrators should be as
likely as, if not more likely than, their non-elected counterparts to
focus on performance measurement when the government is per-
forming poorly and less likely to do so when the government is
performing well. I find evidence that supports this expectation.
This article provides insight into the implications of electoral incen-
tives for management decisions.
Performance measurement in public agencies is a very common practice (see Melkers and Willoughby 1998,
2004; Moynihan 2008). Government agencies use performance information for a variety of purposes, including
grant applications, budget justifications, and securing support from stakeholders. Performance measures may also
serve to inform citizens about the quality of government services, allowing for enhanced accountability. Given its
prominence in public agencies, scholars have devoted considerable attention to issues surrounding performance
measurement, such as examining the factors affecting the adoption and implementation of performance measure-
ment systems, how and why government agencies use performance measures, and the implications of perfor-
mance measurement (see Poister and Streib 1999; Berman and Wang 2000; Julnes and Holzer 2001; Behn 2002,
2003; Heinrich 2002; Chan 2004; Melkers and Willoughby 2005; Gilmour and Lewis 2006; Nicholson-Crotty
et al. 2006; Yang and Hsieh 2007; Bourdeaux and Chikoto 2008; Moynihan 2008; Folz et al. 2009; Brodkin
2011; Lavertu et al. 2013).
DOI: 10.1111/padm.12336
Public Administration. 2017;95:623637. © 2017 John Wiley & Sons Ltd 623

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