The alignment between performance measurement and strategy in central government agencies
This research involved an investigation of the alignment between performance measurement and strategy in central government agencies. A review of the literature suggested that, although the topic is of great interest and importance, it has been underresearched. The context of the existing studies appears to be based primarily on for-profits/business rather than not-for-profit/public sector domain. Moreover, the existing research is mainly normative lacking supporting empirical evidence. The objectives of this research were to (1) develop greater understanding of performance measurement in the public sector, and (2) provide supporting empirical evidence in place of the normative arguments regarding the alignment between performance measurement and strategy. This research aimed to answer the question, ‘how, in central government agencies, is the alignment between performance measurement and strategy managed?’ This interpretive multiple-case research comprised of the studies of four central government agencies in Thailand. The primary data source was interview data supported by documentation. The interpretational analyses were conducted both at intra-case and inter-case levels. This research found that public officials often regarded, ‘strategy’ as equivalent to ‘policy’ and that these terms were used interchangeably. The research also found that the existing definitions of fundamental performance measurement/management terminologies did not fit comfortably with public sector management owing mainly to their lack of practical perspectives. This research proposed refined terminologies. Additionally, the research found eight advantages of stategy-misaligned performance measurement despite the absence of their recognition in the existing literature. As a result, misalignment could be preferable in some circumstances. However, public managers were under pressure to demonstrate alignment between performance measurement and strategy thus ‘alignment tensions’ occurred in practice. In order to deal with these tensions, three strategies were identified including (1) neglecting the tensions (as in ‘do-nothing strategy’), (2) attempting to realign performance measurement with strategy (as in ‘realigning strategy’), and (3) directing attention from the alignment issue (as in ‘distracting strategy’).