Department of Administration and Organization Theory

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Christensen and Lægreid on Performance and Accountability

Tom Christensen and Per Lægreid have published an article on “Performance and Accountability—A Theoretical Discussion and an Empirical Assessment” in Public Organization Review.


This paper starts with a theoretical discussion on the relationship between performance and accountability in public organizations with a special focus on administrative reforms. Accountability theory, based in the work of Dubnick/Romzek, Bovens, Behn, Bouckaert, Halligan and Pollitt, is discussed and related to different aspects of performance. How ambiguous is the relationship between accountability and performance? Do different types of accountability relate to different aspects of performance or pose certain challenges in NPM reforms, post-NPM reforms and hybrid reforms?

The second part of the paper illustrates performance and accountability relations in a large welfare administration reform in Norway by addressing the experiences different actor have had of performance and accountability dynamics. We focus on how the reform has affected different kinds of accountability relations and the relationship between accountability and performance. The data used are document studies, interviews and survey data from a large evaluation project. A main finding is that the relationship between administrative reform and accountability is ambiguous and contested.


You can read the article here.