Performance Management Systems In Uk Public Sector Accounting Essay

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The aim of this research is to examine the applicability of performance measurement system in UK public sector. The past decade as seen a process of continuous reform in managing the public service through importation of private sector managerial practices. This reform was aimed at improving the quality of performance in the public services, creating new principle of regulation and accountability. The reform started in 1970 under the new labour leader, Margret Thatcher, this was due to government policies failing to allocate resources productively, and to distribute them in a well targeted manner, difficulties also arose in defining aims and objectives of the government (Tanzi & schuknecht 2000). Mrs Thatcher came into power believing that government were naturally wasteful and effective, she changed the culture of the public services from an administrative to a managerial role (Savage & Robbins 1980). This forced the government to examine among other things the role of the state in the way in which public services were delivered to citizens and public sector accountability. Both the labour and conservative government agreed on the importance of government been accountable for the provision of welfare such as education, care, health, personal care for the elderly, income support, disabled, housing, protection (Savage & Robbins 1980). Sanderson (1996) also supported the view that to participate in society citizens should have minimum access to services like health, housing and education.

There is increasing pressure on the government to deliver on a number of policy initiatives, the public are interested in knowing how tax payer's money is been spent and if value for money in all areas of government are been achieved. Because public expectation is changing it has become imperative for government to manage the public sector in a way that there will be continuous improvement in services delivered. This is the due to the fact that citizens have become more interested in the way the public money is been spent. The government are striving to make sure the public are receiving world class services as it has been demonstrated in the private sector. The value placed on public services is characterized by cultural and historical tradition, as well as constrained by current political and economic climate. According to Flynn (2007 pp125-126) the reason why measuring performance in the public sector is important is because the public organizations are ''accountable to the public for three things: money is spent as agreed in accordance with procedures; resources have been used efficiently; that resources have been used to achieve the intended result'' the government use the principle of target setting as an instrument of motivation. The main aim of performance measurement system is to provide external financial reporting and operational control Kuwaiti (2004).


Organization operating within the public sector, local government, health care, emergency services, police, government agencies have realized that quality and customer service are strategic issues in recent times Donnelly & Wisniewski (2010). One of the basic principles of quality is continuous improvement and prevention.

Traditionally quality was enforced through threats, punishments, or privatization but the new era of business excellence has brought about a change in both the business world and public sector. In the UK quality was introduced to the public services by the Citizen's Charter (1991), this was as a response to quality issues and failure. Most services in the public sector originated from the failure of private and commercial sector to provide adequate quality in important areas of the well-being of citizens Donnelly (1999). The attention of public service today is concerned with ensuring that they personally provide service that are good and consistent and are fair in meeting citizen's expectation and needs.

Regardless of the context in which it is used, quality is meant to distinguish a companies, products, services, process, people, and action from each other. As Evans (2008 p6) pointed out the American National Standard (ANSI) and the American Society of Quality (ASQ) defined Quality as ''the totality of features and characteristics of a product or service that bears on its ability to satisfy given needs''. Quality can also be defined as fitness of purpose Juran (1989), conformance to fitness (Crosby 1984). Quality is all about things right and meeting customer's expectations in a cost effective way.

Donnelly (1999) suggested various approaches and techniques that are used in the public service to drive the support for quality service as identified by the local government quality group (1997), this include complaints procedures, quality circles, benchmarking, quality audits, staff training, use of performance indicators, customer surveys, service standards, charters and guarantees, and elected member and customer involvement sometimes through community forums''.

Though quality helps to improve There are various criticisms of quality drive in public sector because most of the quality initiatives used in the public sector was derived from the private sector, the difference in both the political and economic climate for both sectors require different approaches. Most of the service provided by the public sector is at a subsidized rate unlike most of the private sector is operating for the sole aim of profits. Another criticism of the use of Citizens Charters for

Performance measurements are that they have been used to define quality process or output standards, but cannot be said to represent best quality management in terms of incorporating "broad-ranging and improvement-orientated measures.


Performance management has never been more significant in the public sector as it is today as many governments around the world have introduced policies which mandate performance in organizations which are controlled by them. The public service organization faces unprecedented pressure, not only to achieve the various goals sets by the government and also meet the various expectations of the citizens, but also to deliver increased productivity and efficiency.

Armstrong (2000) defined performance management as a planned and consolidated process that brings continuous achievement to organizations by developing the outline of performance of the workers and by developing the skill of individual contributors and team member. In the HM treasury report performance management was described as managing the performance of an individual or organization. Performance management is all about creating improvements in all aspects of an organizational operations, it involves creating value for clients so as to attain a leadership strategy which is successful. It also involves a process where better results can be achieved from the organization, individual team members, through an effective outline of goals, objectives, various standards and competing requirement. The process incorporate evaluation derived on major success factors, assessment for discovering drifting, quantifying previous success, quantifying both inputs and outputs. According to Mucha 2009, ''through continuous planning, allocation of resources, program and or execution of policies, organization can improve their understanding of what works and what doesn't, making it easy for them to improve resources. Managing Performance in an organization involves staff training, team building, consultation, and the attitudes of management, shared vision, employee participation, motivation and rewards.

The following were identified by Ogden, as ''the main highlight of a successful performance management system''

Coordination of the process and system of performance management with current systems and organizational policies

Commitment of management

a society were managing performance is accepted as a means of achieving organizational performance and not to be used as a blame culture

Stakeholder involvement

More recently public sector reform especially in the UK has focused on improving the quality of performance measurement, with the aim of improving the quality of services. Performance data plays a part in improving the allocation of financial resources, employee motivation, and communication between government and the citizens.

In the context of public services performance management is the cost effective delivery of the strategic objective of the government in regard to risks and opportunities. To manage performance effectively there is need for measurement and using an appropriate measurement for organizational performance helps to hold the leaders and managers accountable for service delivery. However there exist a lot of perceived and actual challenges to providing effective as well as efficient performance management in public sector


Figure Performance management system

Adapted from

.According to Neely (1996) there are four main processes of performance measurement system and deployment, this include;

design of targets and indicators (applicable measurement criteria),

implementation of measurement system (ways of accessing data and eliminating political, cultural and social barriers),

using the measurement system (analysis of data and all processes are been followed),

performance measurement review (ways of managing and renewing the measurement system)

It is important that performance measurement process and the process owner make the system relevant through continuously review to avoid gaps in both the measurement and its reporting Niven (2002). To be able to identify these gaps there would be need for dedicated resources to measurement and management of performance measures kennerley and Neely (2002). Locke & Latham (1990) suggested that there are three types of performance data available; measurement of goods and services - this include things that are quantifiable (customer served, units produced) or qualitative (customer complaints, numbers of errors), measures of time- including absence, lateness, failure to meet deadline, lost working time and finally financial indicators.


Performance concept is an old phenomenon in a working environment especially more popular in the private sector. According to Armstrong and Baron (1998) if you are unable to define performance, you can't manage or measure it. Oxford dictionary defined performance as how well or badly a person or company does a particular job or activity. Business dictionary (2010) defines performance as the accomplishment of a given task measured against sets standards. It is a huge issue in public sector deciding if performance entails result, behaviour or both. According to Otley (1999) performance is all about doing the work as well as achieving results. It is also a record of individual accomplishments (Armstrong and Baron, 1998). A key element of performance management system is performance measurement, it represent an important tool that allow managers to achieve an effective and efficient management. Both public and private organizations measure performance in terms of financial and accounting measures , in terms of outputs or production and in terms of meeting deadlines and milestones.


The origins of performance management in the public sector according to Sehested (2002 pp 7) can be traced back to the crisis within the NHS in 1970. As Fryer et al (2009, p1) pointed out ''operations were not performing due to lack of funding, clinicians were clamouring for more money, there was general dissatisfaction with public services and the government were trying to reduce spending''. This brought about a massive change in policy which was referred to as new performance management (NPM). ''This change was put in place in place in 1979 during the advent of Thatcher era, large scale privatization, extensive market testing, the breakdown of substantial units of government into minor quasi-autonomous units and the extensive use of traditional private sector management practices are the confirmation of new performance management (NPM) changes that has taken place'' (Hyndman & McGeough 2008). The private sector principle of management to improve the efficiency of the public sector was also confirmed by (Hoque 2008, Gaebler and Osborne 1992).

Traditionally method of measurement in the public sector has always been based on budgetary performance. Previous research has consistently identified the various limitations of the traditional performance measurement system (Neely 1999, Skinner, 1974, Banks & Wheelwright, 1979, Hayes & Abernathy, 1980, Kaplan & Norton, 1992). They are of the opinion that the traditional system rely entirely on financial measure, fail to produce data on quality, they lack strategic focus, it encourages short termism (delay of capital investment), they also fail to provide information on customer expectation's and competitors performance. (Dixon et al., 1990, Kanjin, 2002) also criticize the same measures to be too historically focused, it only provides information on past performances and not future or predictive measures.

Osborne and Gaebler (1992 pp146) are one of the supporters of the power of performance measurement, they suggest that ''organizations that measure results of their work, even if they do not link funding or rewards to those results, find that the information transforms them'', they exploit the principle of the benefit of performance measurement remarkably canvassed by Moullin (2002) and Kaplan & Norton (1996). In the public sector Performance is rarely measured from customer perspective, it is usually determined by external factors like public support and voting behavior Kanji & Moura (2007). According to Hyndman & McGeough (2008) the performance of public sector is viewed as consisting of three stages (inputs, outputs and results) inputs are resources for production of products or services (money, staff, equipment), outputs are organizational activities, or current products or services generated by organization (number of passports issued or number of visits made) and results is the impacts of services and products on the society (safer roads, healthier citizens).

There are a lot of resistance in the public sector to performance measurement system, bureaucratic culture create a barrier which then have an adverse effects on the effectiveness and efficiency of performance measurement. Often there are no rewards for getting things right and few sanctions for getting it wrong Kloot & Martin (2000). Another reason for been suspicious of the measurement system is because it defines responsibility and provides reports of failure or success (Jackson, 1995), hence this lead to resistance from managers in the public sector who prefer to depend on elementary measures and evade reporting as much as possible. The system used for measuring performance is another problem because it suffers from too much overload, does not encourage improvements and suffer from lack of integration Neely (1999).

Performance measurement according to Neely (1998, p5-6) is the ''process of quantifying the efficiency and effectiveness of past actions through acquisition, collation, sorting, analysis, interpretation and dissemination of appropriate data''. While Moullin (2002, pp188) defines performance measurement as the process of ''assessing organization excellence in terms of its management and the benefits delivered for both customers and stakeholders''. Although Neely (1998) recognizes the importance of business excellence he did not specify what aspects of performance should be measured and the relevance of measurement system. Moullin (2002) on the other hand argues that performance measurement is important because it enables managers to establish whether government bodies are delivering an acceptable level of service to the customer. By tracking performance, problems can be easily identified and it serves as a tool for motivating staff to continuously improve its services. Performance measurement serves as a system in which officials can indicate to both the citizens and policy makers that the services are delivered in a fairly manner.

The purpose of performance management is increasing efficiency, service quality and effectiveness in public bodies. At present performance measurement is an integral part of government policies in countries like UK (Harris 2005), USA (Berman & Wang 2000), Australia (Hoque 2008), Finland (Rantanen et al 2007), Netherland (Hoogenboezem & Hoogenboezem 2005), and Finland (Rantanen 2007). Managing performance in public organizations is a complex mater that poses a number of challenges, including defining what is meant by performance in the public sector and deciding on how to measure outputs. These complexities are due to its collection of invisible and visible, intangible and tangible factors and also performance itself are influenced by external and internal factors. Performance measurements create benefit but in the long run create short-termism which leads to bias whereby there is tendency of stakeholders basing short time achievement at the expense of long term. For example if an individual achievement is based on performance then there will be more effort concentrated towards achievement of short time improvements in performance, the police force that is judged by the results of the number of arrests made runs the risk of increasing the number of wrongful arrests, school's performance judged by the number of A 'level passes run the risk of producing crammers there by reducing the quality of education Jackson (1988). According to Bruijn (2002), ''the positive effects of performance measurement include increased transparency, incentives for output, and improved accountability, while the negative effects may include game playing, increased internal bureaucracy, and decreased motivation and innovativeness''.

The new concept that is been adopted by the public sector is the citizen driven government performance measurement. According to Yang (2007) in order to make performance measurement (PEM) more relevant, solutions such as citizen-driven PEM was proposed so as to link performance measurement with political accountability, policy learning and promotion of fairness. Holzer and Kloby (2005) supported the concept of citizen participation in performance measurement as a tool of accountability, they are the opinion that citizen's inclusion in measuring performance of government adds value to the process and better inform policy decision. Weeks (2000) also supported this view that increased citizen participation and enlightened public judgment create an avenue for informed decision making for citizens, elected public officials and managers.


Establishing a performance measurement system in the public sector continues to be a key challenge, the literature shows different authors with different views about the performance measurement system. There are various authors that are in support of public sector performance measurement and does that criticised the system..

Among the critics of performance measurement is Gianakis (2002) who went from devoted supporter to a reticent idealist, he is of the opinion that the observed promise of a performance measurement system tends to mislead protagonist to the fact that the public sector provides services that cannot be measured. The difficulty in measuring public services is due to the fact that the services are not divisible and also public goods do not have the capacity of isolating users and the outputs cannot be standardized. Meyer (2002) believed that performance measurement seldom lives up to its huge expectation, he is of the opinion that the reason performance measurement has proved so challenging is partly due to the gap between what we want to measure and what we can measure, performance measurement is based on past experiences and this does not necessarily serve as a guide to the future or improve organizational excellence. Bruijn (2007 p29-33) also argues that the system of measurement ''create a perverse effects which can drive out beneficial effect, he also believes that the application of performance measurement to professional processes leads to poor information''. Schiuma and Jarrar (2007) also agreed that focus on outputs and results have not been successful in the public domain partly due to public sector serving whole community or a large magnitude of people with different expectations of ideas and needs. Moxham and Boaden (2007) are also of the opinion that applying private sector management practices and skills to public sector does not necessarily lead to improvements, this is because the public sector does not have same freedom of decision making like the private sector, and most of the public sector strategic goals are decided by the politicians.

Another criticism is citizen participation in performance measurement system, although there are benefits to citizen participation but it also has its significant challenges for implementation and this is partly because citizens are distrustful, cynical and they prefer to be involved from a long distance Holzer and Kloby (2005).


According to Jackson (1995) an important determinants of the performance measurement system in public sector is the interests of taxpayers and voters. The changes in government recently as increased the public service accountability to both parliament and the public. The development of targets is a key factor in the drive to improve quality of service and value for taxpayer McAdam et al. (2002). Hynman & McGeough (2008) also suggested that in practice the public sector has different objectives and targets in place. In the writing of Argenti (1980) and Ducker (1954) they suggested that by having performance targets and by measuring achievements against targets, a platform for a better management within the public sector is provided.

Rantanen et al (2007) are also among the authors that supports target setting as tool in measuring the sequel of organizational strategy, they believe that the primary responsibility of performance measurement and evaluation is to aid decision making by collecting information on how well targets were attained and how true the estimates have been. Kinney & Ruggini (2008) is also in support of target setting in performance measurement systems. All targets are flawed but most are useful, they are effective in making people accountable. Various governments in the UK, USA, Finland, and Netherland are all advocates of target setting. According to Hoogenboezem and Hoogenboezem (2005), the Dutch have successfully implemented performance measurement target scheme in their police force and it has worked for them. In the recommended changes to the system of management in the fire service, Gilchrist (2003) highlighted the introduction of performance targets system, the fire service department are of the opinion that if a strategy was put in a place where there is an increase in the fire prevention measures this will automatically lead to a reduction in cost in future.

The (1999) local government act places act best value authority under duty to continuously seek improvement in service quality, authorities and forces are required to set targets and monitor their performance and standards against set of statutory performance indicators (SPI) The National Archives website (2010). This policy was set in order to assess the performance of police force in providing safety to the citizen.

The following targets were set by the police in order to meet the targets of performance key diagnostics indicators (KDI) set by the home office, statutory performance indicators (SPI) and the local performance indicators Northumbria police website (2010);

crime and detection rates;

community safety issues (anti-social behavior, fear of crime, race relations, road traffic collisions);

citizen focus and quality of service issues (call handling, response times, satisfaction surveys, fairness);

use of resources issues, efficiency, sickness absences, recruitment


When the new Labour party in the UK came into government they were devoted to improving public services including education, housing, police, health, local and central government and transportation, they set up a body to monitor progress towards achievement of targets (Labour website). Unfortunately according to Robin (2003) ''where targets are not being achieved, opposing political parties make political gains out of such failures''.

Meanwhile in a survey performed by Boyne and Gould-Williams (2003), the result shows that setting too many targets have destructive impacts on performance and quality, he is of the opinion that the higher the targets the lower performance gets, this view was also supported by Quinn (1980) that when specific targets are set for improving performance that it ends up thwarting the achievement of an intended goal. In a recent pilot projects carried out by the police force in Surrey, Staffordshire, Leicestershire and West Midlands, a recommendation was made to management that focus henceforth will be on satisfying the needs of the public rather than meeting government performance targets (public sector website 2008).


A performance measurement framework is a management technique and tool that links performance information in the organization. Performance management system in the public sector is used to promote the effective and efficient management of policy and service delivery. As cited in Mackie (2005 pp209) public bodies are responsible for the issue of performance measurement has been the subject of considerable research in the last decade. Performance management serve as a way of making an informed decision, as cited by Heeks (1999 pp331) ''the process of public sector reform has brought with it an increasing requirement for public sector organizations to develop performance indicators and then measure their performance against those indicators''. In general a framework exists to structure performance information, it is used to bring about benefits and supports performance management. Performance measurement frameworks are aimed at focusing on customer and measuring appropriate things. Frameworks are created to aid authorities to design their approaches to managing within limited resources and to establish what they have already achieved and what the future plan is within a wider portfolio of strategies and tactics Bovaird and Davis (1999 p293).

There are four steps which have been identified as important in performance measurement framework.


Figure 2.1 adapted from department of trade and industry (dti)

The strategic goals of the organization in figure 2.1 are transformed into desired standards of performance, metrics are established to contrast the performance objectives set with the actual achieved standards, gaps are established, and improvement process initiated (department of trading and industry 2010 p4). The range of measures used in the public sector include financial and non financial. According to Purbey, S., Mukherjee, k. & Bhar, C. (2007), various authors have suggested different performance measurement frameworks for measuring performance of an organization. In the discussion with public sector manager's and individual experience, some of the key quality frameworks used in the public sector are the business excellence model (BEM), Investors in People (IiP), charter mark, ISO 9000, the balanced scorecard and benchmarking (McAdam et al. 2002, Kuwaiti, M. 2004).


The balanced score card was developed by Dr Robert Kaplan, an accounting professor at Harvard university. He believed that the traditional financial measures of performance were inadequate for the modern business enterprise Nivea 2008. In the study carried out by Kaplan and Norton, it was discovered that the reliance on financial measures was preventing organization from providing value added services Kaplan & Norton (1996). The concept of balanced score card was developed as a response to the requirement for an integrated system of management capable of assimilating traditional quantitative as well as more abstract qualitative performance measures (Halachmi 2005, Kaplan and Norton 1992). The objective of the balance score card is to link strategy to performance measures selected, communicate and implement strategy of an organization. Balanced score card retained the financial performance measures, , lagging indicators but complement them with measures on key drivers of future financial information. The balanced score card suggest we consider the objectives and measure of performance of an organization from four perspectives as shown in figure 2.2 below; customer, financial, internal business process and learning and growth (Kaplan and Norton 1996).


Figure 2.2 Balanced scorecard framework adapted from Kaplan & Norton (1996)

Vision and strategy

the aims and objective of the scorecard are determined from the vision and strategy of an organization. The development of balanced score card makes lack of consensus and teamwork more conspicuous as well as adding to the resolution of the problem. According to Niven (2008) Kaplan and Norton realized that the performance measurement system used by most organizations were inadequate in the information it process to be able to compete in knowledge economy, so they decided to develop a performance measures that will capture all the organizational activities, from customer issues, employee activities, internal business processes, and finally shareholders concerns.

The balanced score card which is widely used in the public sector is said to lack consideration to the measurement of human resources , employee satisfaction, supplier performance, product/service quality and environmental/ community perspective Brown M.G. (1996)


Figure 2.3 The five perspective of the public sector scorecard adapted from Moullin (2002)

The public sector scorecard above was specifically created for the public and voluntary sectors. The strategic perspectives are a reflection of the reason why the service exist and what it attempts to achieve. The service user perspective is interested in how service users and other key stakeholders view the organization as a whole. The operational excellence perspective is concerned with how effective both processes and staff are and measures like staff satisfaction. The financial perspective refers to how funds are managed efficiently and in a cost effective way. The innovation and learning perspective is concerned if it's improving continuously, learning from others, and establishing a value added service to both service users and stakeholders.


This is a framework which is structured to throw light on the complexity of an organization. Performance prism was defined by Moullin 2002 (pp 193) as ''the process of measuring value to clients and stakeholders''. It is very important to measure if an organization is able to satisfy the requirement of both the internal and external customers. Performance prism is focused on satisfying the requirement of internal customer for example stakeholders. Apart from an organization measuring the effectiveness of meeting expectations of stakeholders, an organization has to assess if it has a proper plan to meet the requirement and how meet targets. It tends to integrate the satisfaction of stakeholders, contribution of stakeholders, strategies which needs to be implemented, processes to fulfill requirements and capabilities of people and procedures. Moullin (2002) was of the opinion after evaluating the different performance management system that the performance prism system first developed by Neely et al (2002) is sufficient for the voices of the different stakeholders in the public sector


Figure 2.4 The performance prism source Moullin (2002)

Performance prism suggest some areas in which measures of performance might be useful, but provide little guidance on how the appropriate measures can be identified, introduced and ultimately used to manage the business Medori D. & Steeple D. (2002).


European foundation for quality management (EFQM) is a broadly used business excellence model in Europe. Many local authorities in the UK as already adopted the model for continuous performance improvement George et al (2003). Excellence model gives room for enough flexibility so that it can be used across a wide range of organization, regardless of sector or size. According to Moullin (2002) the excellence model integrates many characteristics of the balanced score card also having similar four categories or measures: employees result, customer results, society results and key performance results. A key characteristic of the model is its usefulness as a technique for self assessment where organizations rank themselves against criteria under the nine headings. The excellence model is accomplished framework that can be used beside other standards and tools such as IIP, charter mark and balanced score card quality Scotland website (2010). The model encourages best value whereby local authorities can deliver services in an efficient, effective and economical way. The excellence model permits any department and service to be scored against constant criteria.


Figure 2.5 The excellence model framework adapted from


The PSIF is an evaluation framework that motivates an organization to assess their various activities and results, according to the improvement service, the framework encourages continuous improvement by integrating a wide range of existing improvement tools used in organization. ''The tools include the following'' improvement service

The EFQM Excellence Model

The Investors in People Standard

The New Customer Service Excellence Standard (formally Charter Mark Standard)

Best Value principles


Figure 2.6 PSIF

adapted from


The aim of this research is to attempt to understand the role of performance measurement system in the public sector and why existing systems are unable to provide a lasting solution in the long run. From the findings it shows that public sector cannot adopt the management principles and practices used in the private sector for lot of reasons. Though public sector can take a few of the private sector policies which can be successfully applied or it can be modified to suit public sector policies. The research would also examine the application of customer perspective to public sector performance measurement.

Due to the various gaps in the public sector performance measurement system, hence the researcher would like to find answers to the following key research questions;

What are the limitations of framework used to measure performance?

What is the usefulness of Target Setting in the Public Sector?

The Role of Stakeholders in target setting?


The objective of this chapter is to describe the research methods which the researchers have adopted in analyzing the research problem. This chapter would analyze the various research tools and techniques and the most useful technique for carrying out this research. The researcher hopes to find answers to the following research questions;

What are the limitations of framework used to measure performance?

How useful is Target Setting in the Public Sector?

What are the implications of basing the Public Sector Performance on Stakeholders Perspectives?

Education research involves exploring and comprehension of social phenomena which are educational in nature, this include the social, cultural, and psychological processes. It is not only necessary for a researcher to know how to apply a particular technique, it is equally important that the researcher can differentiate which technique is relevant and which is not. Research methodology helps to solve research problems systematically, Research methodology and research method is used interchangeably, according to Hussey & Hussey (1997 pp54) ''methodology refers to the overall approach to the research process, from the theoretical underpinning to the collection and analysis of the data'', it is useful in the analysis of the rules and methods employed by a discipline. However research methods are referred to as the various techniques and methods used by the researcher during the course of analyzing the research problem Kumar (2008).

Theoretical questions in education emanated from various interpretation and conceptions of social reality, different philosophies have been developed to dictate the criteria for selecting and defining problems for investigation. According to Hussey & Hussey (1997 pp47) research philosophy also known as paradigm ''refers to the development of scientific practice based on people's philosophies and assumptions about the world and the nature of knowledge; in this context, about how research should be conducted'' . Research paradigm explore what falls within the limit of research, it determine peoples perspective about the world and develop the understanding of how those things are connected. The paradigm adopted has substantial significance for the methodology used.

Methodology is interested in the following issues (Hussey & Hussey 1997)

What is the reason for collecting the data

What kind of data is collected

Source of data collected

Method of collecting the data

How the data would be analyzed

There are two main research philosophies or paradigms, this are positivist and phenomenological and the most common are quantitative and qualitative, some authors prefer to use interpretivist rather than phenomenological because it gives a more extensive philosophical perspective.

The researcher is going to use the onion process illustrated below as the basis for the chapter

Figure 3.1The research onion

Adapted ©

As the different layers in the various approaches used as dependencies, the research onion suggest that the research design should be developed from the top down and peeled away, starting first with the layer outside [adopting a research philosophy] and then peeling away every one of the layer until the last layer is reached, thus defining the data collection method


The positivistic paradigm is based on a number of principles, it is a believer of objective realism, knowledge is gained through data that can be experienced and verified. Positivistic paradigm is based on the perception that the world is objective and external to the researcher, theories are based on approaches used in the social sciences and social observer could adopt the role of observers of an independent and pre-existing reality (Ticehurst & Veal 1999). Most events are subject to the law of nature discovered by humans through empirical testing, using both deductive and inductive hypotheses derived from scientific body. It is possible to choose some of the attributes of positivism in this research which is hypothesis testing and qualitative methods.

The Realist paradigm is another philosophy that believes in scientific enquiry and approach which is equivalent to positivism because it also supports the evolution of knowledge through scientific approach (Saunders et al 2007). It is a philosophical theory that highlights the existence of object or some things in difference to theories in favour of ideas, words or logical constructions. It is of the opinion that the universe as an existence independent of the human mind. There are two types of realism namely direct realism and critical realism.

The Interpretivism paradigm is a philosophy that supports the interactive and cooperative association between the object of investigation and the investigator Phillimore & Goodson (2004). The way we interpret things in our everyday life depends on what meaning we give to them, they believe that reality and the party that perceive cannot be separated. This philosophy comes from two intellectual institutions namely phenomenology and symbolic interactionism.

Phenomenology is concerned with how humans perceive the world in which they interact.

Symbolic Interactionism believes that human continuously interpret the symbolic meaning of the world in which they interpret and acts on the basis of what they can perceive Bryman & Bell (2003).

After examining the various philosophies the researcher adopted the phenomenological paradigm because of its relevance to this particular research, phenomenological places priority on quality and intensity of data collected, the research philosophy is an appropriate method for evaluating public sector performance measurement system.


It is important to attach this research approaches to the different research paradigm, the deductive approach is much in line with positivism and the inductive to interpretivism.

Inductive approach is the process of developing theories from specific observation (Goddard & Melville 2007). It is more apparent that researchers in this institution will make use of qualitative data and use different methods to gather the data so as to substantiate different philosophical views. The findings of inductions are not necessarily true

Deductive approach is the process of establishing a theory or hypothesis and outlines a research strategy to test the hypothesis (Saunders et al 2007).


This research represents an explanatory and exploratory investigation of the conditions that are important to successful performance management system. Research strategy is a scheme of action and it gives direction to work allowing the researcher to conduct research systematically rather than irregularly. According to Saunders et al 2009 research strategy is guided by researcher's question and aims, pre existing knowledge, availability of time and the various resources available including the researchers philosophical arguments. If an action is well planned, it helps the researcher to stay on track thereby reducing time and efforts and improving the quality of work. The various research strategies include experiment, case study, survey, action research, ethnography, grounded theory and archival research (Saunders et al 2009).


The research strategy which was adopted was a case study, this strategy is supported by the phenomenological philosophy, a case study approach connote a particular analysis such as group of workers, company, an event, an individual or a process (Hussey & Hussey 1997). Using a case study help to gain an in-depth knowledge of the how employees in the public sector feel about performance measurement system. This provides a rich understanding of the background of the research and the established.


One of the critical issues in public sector performance management system is performance measurement. In addition to the extensive data available on performance measurement systems, it is imperative to conduct primary research and obtain data to further lend credibility to the research at an organizational level to amongst others lend support to or contrast to already existing idea. Qualitative data for the primary research was collected via a questionnaire distributed to all sixty (60) targeted employees of the Department for Food and Rural affairs. The questionnaire elicited information regarding practices and perception of performance measurement system in public sector.

The questionnaire employed a descriptive approach. A copy of the questionnaire can be found in Appendix 1.

The researcher will adopt the four most commonly used tests for judging the quality of any research given design to be applied to the study. These tests are validity, reliability, generalia


Achieving validity requires that the correct operational measures are established for the concepts been studied