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Title: The adoption and use of multiple performance improvement techniques in the Northern Ireland and Scotland public sectors: a mixed methods study
Author: Banks, Graeme
Awarding Body: University of Ulster
Current Institution: Ulster University
Date of Award: 2013
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Since the 1980s Public Sector Organisations (PSOs) have been subject to a series of New Public Management (NPM) reforms to increase efficiency, effectiveness and accountability for their performance. Against this backdrop PSOs have been adopting and using multiple Performance Improvement Techniques (PITs), which have been shown in recent studies to involve potential contradictions. This study has sought to investigate adoption levels of multiple PITs, how multiple PITs are used, PSOs' experiences of using multiple PITs, the potential for contradiction between PITs, and how any contradictions are managed. To that end, this study employed a mixed methods research process to respond to these objectives. Drawing on ambidexterity theory, the research process was divided into a stage one survey to gain a broad understanding of the pattern of adoption and use of multiple PITs across the Northern Ireland and Scotland public sectors and stage two case studies to enable more indepth insights into the adoption and use of multiple PITs. The empirical findings demonstrated that adoption of multiple PITs is widespread and set to grow. In addition, multiple PITs are mostly used in combination, and in a somewhat cyclical fashion. In general, organisations reported a positive experience when adopting and using multiple PITs, although employee resistance and lack of leadership did present some challenges. The adoption and use of multiple PITs was found to involve certain contradictions in terms of the respective 'orientations towards improvement' and 'objects of improvement' of different goals, structures and processes. In response, organisations were found to employ a multi-faceted approach to managing any contradiction. The study makes a number of contributions, which develop ambidexterity theory and its application to the use of multiple PITs in combination and the challenges that must be faced. Specifically, the study offers some suggestions for managing the adoption and use of multiple PITs and any contradictions between PITs. Furthermore, the study offers a useful framework for identifying potential areas of contradictions between PITs, which is important in focussing management effort. Finally, the multi-faceted ambidextrous approaches used by the case study organisations suggest that categories of ambidextrous approach are not necessarily holistically applied or mutually exclusive. Therefore, ambidexterity theory may require some slight revision in light of these empirical findings.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available