Comparing the Performance of National Public Sectors: Conceptual Problems

International Journal of Productivity and Performance Management, Vol. 57, No. 4, pp. 329-338, 2008

17 Pages Posted: 14 Feb 2009

See all articles by Steven Van de Walle

Steven Van de Walle

KU Leuven - Department of Political Science; Erasmus University Rotterdam - Department of Public Administration

Date Written: July 1, 2008

Abstract

Purpose of this paper: A number of studies and indicators have ranked European countries in terms of the performance of their public sectors. This paper demonstrates there are important conceptual problems with such rankings and comparisons.

Design/methodology/approach: Using the existing indicators, the paper first shows how European countries' public sectors are ranked. It then goes on to show how conceptual problems with these indicators may lead to incorrect conclusions.

Findings: Countries' public sector performance cannot be summarised using a single indicator because of our inability to define 'the public sector' and the disagreement on what it means for public sectors to perform.

Practical implications: Despite increasing demand and supply in policy circles for international public sector indicators, the existing ones are unreliable.

What is original/value of paper? This paper extends the assessment of international public sector indicators beyond a mere technical evaluation.

Keywords: governance indicators, public sector performance, comparative public administration

JEL Classification: O47, D24, D73

Suggested Citation

Van de Walle, Steven, Comparing the Performance of National Public Sectors: Conceptual Problems (July 1, 2008). International Journal of Productivity and Performance Management, Vol. 57, No. 4, pp. 329-338, 2008, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1343055

Steven Van de Walle (Contact Author)

KU Leuven - Department of Political Science ( email )

Public Management Institute
Van Evenstraat 2A
B-3000 Leuven
Belgium
+32 16 323614 (Phone)
+32 16 323611 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.publicmanagementinstitute.be

Erasmus University Rotterdam - Department of Public Administration ( email )

3000 DR Rotterdam
Netherlands
0031 10 408 2518 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.stevenvandewalle.eu

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