Performance management in intermunicipal authorities
by Robert Fouchet, Marcel Guenoun
International Journal of Public Sector Performance Management (IJPSPM), Vol. 1, No. 1, 2007

Abstract: The purpose of this paper is to examine the resort to performance management techniques in French local government and their contribution to the renewal of public managers values. Contrary to many other countries, French local authorities did not have to cope with pressures to produce performance information from central government initiatives. The central government intervention in local authorities rests more on constitutive policies than on substantive actions the state defines rules and procedures, roles and settings, but it does not go into details as to how exactly these shall contribute to a particular purpose: that task is left to local officials. The 1999 Chevenement's law matches with this model. It has led to the creation across France of genuine intermunicipal administrations vested with extensive policy attributions and tax raising powers. Gathering more than 84% of the French population, the 2525 EPCIs are recent yet massive organisations. These recent administrations concentrate high level of technical expertise and a great use of management techniques. A first look inside these new organisation shows they have been the preferred place for implementation of 'modern management techniques' such as Best Value, performance measurement indicators and other technologies of 'control'. The principal aim of this research is to go deeper than the finding that performance information is inside intermunicipal administration and to understand how it is used in and by whom. The second aim is to bridge the gap between the absence of coercive pressures to adopt performance measurement techniques and the evidence of their presence. Is this an indication that in these organisations performance measurement is not a ritualistic exercise and is linked to organisational reality and needs? We used multiple methods of data collection to capture the key dimensions of this research and enhance both its external and internal validity. The results show that performance measurement information were implemented to respond to internal demand but in anticipation of further external pressures and to avoid these pressures. Results also show that performance measurement in intermunicipal administration is pluralistic and conflicting. If there is one transversal management accounting instrument developed, in each case studied, that focuses on financial management, this instrument is not exclusive from others. Each operational department realises its own tableaux de bords and uses them for negotiation with top management. The modalities and purposes of measure vary according to the executive officers of each department.

Online publication date: Wed, 30-May-2007

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