This study presents the first empirical test of the proposition that strategy content is a key determinant of organizational performance in the public sector. Strategy content comprises two dimensions: strategic stance (the extent to which an organization is a prospector, defender, or reactor) and strategic actions (the relative emphasis on changes in markets, services, revenues, external relationships, and internal characteristics). Data were drawn from a multiple‐informant survey of 119 English local authorities. Measures of strategy content are included in a multivariate model of interauthority variations in performance. The statistical results show that strategy content matters. Organizational performance is positively associated with a prospector stance and negatively with a reactor stance. Furthermore, local authorities that seek new markets for their services are more likely to perform well. These results suggest that measures of strategy content must be included in valid theoretical and empirical models of organizational performance in the public sector.
Organization theorists suggest that the social capital within organizations is a potentially powerful resource for improving organizational performance. In addition, organizational structures may strengthen or weaken the effects of social capital, by furnishing greater or fewer opportunities for its growth. This article explores the independent and combined effects of organizational social capital and structure on the performance of over 100 organizations between 2002 and 2005, using panel data. The statistical results suggest that cognitive and relational dimensions of social capital are positively related to performance, but that the structural dimension of social capital is unrelated to service outcomes. Further analysis revealed that organizational structure has complex and contradictory effects on the impact of each dimension of social capital.
In this article, we examine the role that formal strategic planning plays in determining the success of strategy implementation in a set of more than 150 public service organizations from Canada. We also analyse the mediating effects of managerial involvement in strategic planning and the moderating effects of stakeholder uncertainty on the planning-implementation relationship. A structured online questionnaire was used to collect the data. Our findings suggest that formal strategic planning has a strong positive relationship with implementation, which, though mediated by managerial involvement, becomes even more salient in the face of stakeholder uncertainty. Several implications of these findings are discussed.
The theory of representative bureaucracy suggests that organizations perform better if their workforces reflect the characteristics of their constituent populations. The management literature implies that the impact of representative bureaucracy is contingent on organizational strategy. Our empirical evidence on English local government is inconsistent with the basic theory of representative bureaucracy but supports a moderating effect of organizational strategy. Representative bureaucracy is negatively associated with citizens' perceptions of local authority performance. However, organizations pursuing a prospector strategy are able to mitigate this negative relationship.
Central government in the UK has introduced performance management regimes that apply rewards and sanctions to local service providers. These regimes assume that organizational performance is attributable to decisions made by local policymakers rather than circumstances beyond their control. We test this assumption by developing a statistical model of external constraints on service standards and applying this model to the outcomes of comprehensive performance assessment (CPA) in English local government. The results show that CPA scores were significantly influenced by the characteristics -such as social diversity and economic prosperity -of local populations. Thus 'poor' performance is partly attributable to difficult circumstances rather than bad choices.
We examine the relationship between a range of new public management (NPM) practices and citizens' perceptions of service efficiency, responsiveness, equity and effectiveness in English local governments. We find that public-private relationships have a negative relationship with citizens' perceptions of all four dimensions of local service performance, but an entrepreneurial strategic orientation exhibits a positive association with all four. Performance management is also likely to positively influence rather than negatively influencing citizens' perceptions of local public services. Further analysis revealed that the impact of NPM practices varies according to the level of socio-economic disadvantage confronted by local governments.
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