Problematising public sector performance: the benefits of a 'flesh and blood' approach

aut.conference.typePaper Published in Proceedings
aut.researcherNorthcott, Deryl N
dc.contributor.authorSmith, S
dc.contributor.authorNorthcott, DN
dc.description.abstractPurpose – This paper introduces a novel theoretical approach to conceptualising performance in government departments, with wider applicability to other parts of government. Design/methodology/approach – Drawing on identified gaps in notions of performance in the accounting literature and interview data from three New Zealand central government departments, the paper introduces Alexander’s (2003, 2006, 2011) theory of performance. This theory has the potential to enhance conceptualisations of performance and enrich research on performance management systems. Findings –By introducing a performative theory, which differs from previously used Latourian performative theory, this paper highlights new avenues for research into performance management. It illustrates the application of Alexander’s theory of performance via an examination of how public servants construct the “flesh and blood” (Alexander, 2006, p. 33) of their performance in the absence of visible and tangible measures such as profit, and how they create sufficient unity around the notion of performance to direct their efforts towards achieving performance expectations. Research limitations/implications – The findings presented here may not be as applicable beyond these case studies. Nevertheless, the issues discussed in this paper are recognisable in other accounting research. Originality/value – Extant public sector literature tends to focus on either a production model or a service delivery model of performance, with some notable exceptions. This paper offers scholars the opportunity to rethink the notion of public sector performance through a new approach. It illustrates how this may be done and identifies possible new research avenues.
dc.identifier.citationAsian-Pacific Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Accounting held at Kobe Convention Centre, Kobe, Japan, 2013-07-26to 2013-07-28, published in: Proceedings of the 2013 APIRA Conference, vol.2013
dc.publisherAsia Pacific Interdisciplinary Research in Accounting (APIRA)
dc.rightsNOTICE: this is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in (see Citation). The original publication is available at (see Publisher's Version)
dc.subjectPerformance management
dc.subjectPublic sector
dc.subjectPerformative theory
dc.subjectCase studies
dc.subjectNew Zealand
dc.titleProblematising public sector performance: the benefits of a 'flesh and blood' approach
dc.typeConference Contribution
pubs.organisational-data/AUT/Business & Law
pubs.organisational-data/AUT/Business & Law/Accounting
pubs.organisational-data/AUT/Business & Law/Accounting/Accounting PBRF 2012
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