Governments at one level increasingly develop measures of the activity of governments at another level. A large literature has developed in public administration and policy that assesses the determinants and validity of performance measures and their influence on the strategic behavior of public organizations. While recognizing the strides made by this line of research, we introduce a theoretical framework that candidly accounts for the political context in which performance measures emerge and are implemented. Specifically, we claim that superordinate governments use performance measures as a political discipline mechanism (PDM) to incentivize the behavior of subordinate governments. We explain how performance PDMs vary across political systems. We present a set of testable implications of interest to researchers on performance management and bureaucratic politics and discuss the performance literature in light of our theory.


Administrative Law | Organizations | Politics | Public Law and Legal Theory

Date of this Version

September 2010