Managing the complexity of outcomes: a new approach to performance measurement and management

French, Max, Lowe, Toby, Wilson, Rob, Mary-Lee, Rhodes and Hawkins, Melissa (2021) Managing the complexity of outcomes: a new approach to performance measurement and management. In: Handbook on Performance Management in the Public Sector. Elgar Handbooks in Public Administration and Management . Edward Elgar, Cheltenham, pp. 111-128. ISBN 9781789901191, 9781789901207

FINAL_Handbook_of_Performance_Management_Managing_the_Complexity_of_Outcomes.pdf - Accepted Version

Download (1MB) | Preview
Official URL:


Governments, philanthropic agencies and public sector organisations have given increasing primacy to outcomes across their operations in recent years, particularly within the domain of performance management. We argue that societal outcomes challenge public agencies to respond to four specific forms of complexity - compositional, experiential, dynamic and governance complexities - which taken together confound the conceptual basis of traditional performance management systems. We adopt this understanding of complexity in a constructive capacity to consider the design parameters of a complexity-appropriate performance management system. We conclude that two theoretical transitions are necessary in a complexity-appropriate performance management approach: a shift from principal-agent theory to stewardship theory, and from technical to social management control theory. We explore the characteristics which such a model of performance management might take in practice, and conclude by outlining a research agenda to explore the potential applications of this new approach.

Item Type: Book Section
Uncontrolled Keywords: Complexity, outcomes, performance management
Subjects: N200 Management studies
N900 Others in Business and Administrative studies
Department: Faculties > Business and Law > Newcastle Business School
Depositing User: John Coen
Date Deposited: 28 Apr 2020 10:58
Last Modified: 07 Nov 2021 03:30

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics