"Completing the performance jigsaw"
: improving managerial control and enhancing organisational performance through the introduction of a wide range of performance measures: a longitudinal study in a Scottish local authority

  • Andrew Muir

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Organisations today are becoming increasingly complex, both internally in terms of structures and externally in respect of their strategies, and management perceive conventional performance measures alone as being inadequate for appraisal or control. Many examples are cited where the system of performance review has shed light on the real drivers of value in organisations, thus indicating profound changes in the business process.

The purpose of this research is to investigate the outcomes of introducing a range of performance measures, both financial and non-financial, as a means of improving managerial control and enhancing organisational performance in the public sector. The research has focused on a number of direct labour organisations/services within one Scottish local authority (the Council) and included the investigation of performance measures in the areas of quality, innovation, productivity, employee co-operation, and the more traditional measure of profitability (statutory target). Issues surrounding the transfer of private sector techniques into the public sector organisations are also considered, as is the evolving nature of local authority management. The research findings, conducted over a four year period (1996-1999), are based upon the results of longitudinal surveys undertaken during that period.

The research also incorporates the results from a similar survey carried out by the Accounts Commission in 1998, into all local authority direct labour organisations in Scotland. This latter survey provided an overview of these organisations and examined specifically their management arrangements, financial position and how they monitor and control their finance. The results of this Accounts Commission survey were further supplemented by the findings of a subsequent detailed investigation by the Commission in 1998 of the local authority with the largest DLO financial deficit in Scotland. The outcomes from both of these Accounts Commission surveys were used to compare and contrast the research outcomes of introducing a performance management regime into the Council, using a wide range of performance measures, and to illustrate the benefits of adopting such a strategy.

Finally, the research describes how certain frameworks were developed to assist with the implementation of the performance management regime and to help implement a number of other initiatives relating to the regime. These other initiatives have been included in the thesis in order to place the performance management regime in context and to highlight the complexity of the situation. Indeed, the complexity of the situation has made the conduct of the research in itself complex and multifaceted. This has in turn, given a unique insight into the development of a performance management regime over time and provided an array of converging evidence upon which to base the research survey conclusions. It is anticipated that these conclusions, along with the development of the frameworks, in particular the Focus Improvement Team (FIT) concept, will contribute significantly to the enhancement of professional practice in the area of public sector performance management.

Metaphorically speaking, it could be said that the Focus Improvement Team concept was used to FIT together various pieces of the Performance Jigsaw in order to provide a comprehensive picture of organisational performance. This picture (see Figure 12 below) helped to tell the story of the organisation by depicting elements of the past, present and future potential performance, which provided a basis for better understanding and organisational learning. This picture and the use of a wide range of performance measures, also helped to improve managerial control and enhance organisational performance of the DLO’s/DSO’s in the Council.
Date of AwardApr 2001
Original languageEnglish

Cite this