1st Edition

Performing the State
Critical encounters with performance measurement in social and public policy

ISBN 9780367891091
Published December 12, 2019 by Routledge
118 Pages

USD $47.95

Prices & shipping based on shipping country


Book Description

Performance measurement is now a key management tool used by government to assess and enhance public services. It is also used as a tool for public sector transparency and accountability. Despite these noble objectives, performance measurement can also generate counterproductive and sometimes paradoxical outcomes. This book innovatively conceptualises performance measurement as a ‘policy instrument’. Such an approach necessarily invites careful and critical examination of instances of the formation, application and contestation of particular performance measurement regimes, the tools used to measure performance, the way in which performance data is produced and used, and the complex dynamics between professionals, managers and service users that arise from these practices. The book provides detailed empirical examples of performance measurement in the delivery of health, schooling and child welfare services, as well as the problematics of assessing national wellbeing. Instead of a form of scientific and rational management, performance measurement is revealed as an intrinsically contested, socio-politically charged and value laden practice. The book concludes that to succeed in delivering authentic performance improvements public sector managers must be aware of these complex, paradoxical dynamics and the circumstances that make performance measurement perform. This book was originally published as a special issue of Policy Studies.

Table of Contents

Introduction – Performing the state: the socio-political dimensions of performance measurement in policy and public services  1. Performance measurement as a policy instrument  2. Population health performance as primary healthcare governance in Australia: professionals and the politics of performance  3. Hitting the target without missing the point: New Zealand’s immunisation health target for two year olds  4. The challenge of quantifying national well-being: lessons from the Measures of Australia’s Progress initiative  5. NAPLAN data: a new policy assemblage and mode of governance in Australian schooling  6. Repositioning prevention in child protection using performance indicators  7. Techniques and paradoxes in performing performance measurements: concluding reflections

View More



Paul Henman is Associate Professor of Digital Sociology and Social Policy at the University of Queensland, Australia. His research examines the nexus between government policy, public administration and information technologies. He is the author of Governing Electronically: e-government and the reconfiguration of policy, public administration and power (2010).

Alison Gable is an Honorary Research Fellow in the Schools of Education and Social Science, University of Queensland, Australia. Her research and practice sits at the intersection of data, professions, education policy, and reform.