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Title: Implementing performance management in Brunei : a case study of public sector reform
Author: Haji Said, Thuraya F.
ISNI:       0000 0004 5918 6508
Awarding Body: University of Surrey
Current Institution: University of Surrey
Date of Award: 2016
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This study examines the implementation of performance management (PM) in the Brunei public sector within the context of debates about new public management, bureaucracy and post-bureaucracy. Although Brunei opted for such reform to modernise and improve its public-sector performance, in the literature there appear to be differences between the rhetoric and realities of adopting PM and this brings into question the extent to which the sector is moving towards post-bureaucracy. This study draws on institutional theory as its theoretical lens. In order to address questions intended to explain the ways in which PM has been used as part of Brunei public sector reform, a qualitative approach was adopted. Five government ministries and departments where PM tools, such as strategic plans, balanced scorecards and performance indicators, had been implemented since the government introduced the National Strategic Alignment Programme in 2003 were selected as case organisations. Eighty interviews and informal observations were conducted and then analysed using a thematic approach to provide insights into how the implementation of PM was experienced and perceived by participants involved in the process. Through cross-case analysis, this study evaluated the responses to PM that are specific to the Brunei context, showing the influence of institutional factors such as national culture or existing institutions. As an outcome of the empirical analysis, a theoretical framework emerged which explains the difference between the rhetoric and reality of the post-bureaucratic context of reform and illuminates the intertwining of change and stability. In particular, concepts of institutional entrepreneurship/work, path dependency and translation from institutional theory that take into account the role of human agency in change processes, or the paradox of embedded agency, were drawn on in the development of the framework. This study thus makes a contribution to institutional theory. The findings show that, despite there being strategic acquiescence to PM in the case organisations, they were not deeply affected by the practice which led to PM appearing rhetorical, mainly in order to gain legitimacy. Instead, the findings show evidence of decoupling of PM from existing institutions and practices and also a translation of the PM practice which led to strategic resistance to PM and institutional maintenance of bureaucracy. PM in the Brunei public sector was mainly influenced by path-dependency factors and this in turn influenced the translation of PM by embedded actors resulting in PM being shaped according to existing cultural norms. For instance, there was a persistence of bureaucratic culture that caused interviewees to frame PM in terms of compliance to hierarchical authority rather than as a means of improving performance, in contrast to the ideas of post-bureaucracy. This shows that the influence of existing practice was stronger than the influence of the principles of PM. Therefore, this study provides insights into the roles of change and stability in the PM implementation process leading to institutional maintenance in Brunei, as well as insights into the existence of the contradictions between the rhetoric and realities of post-bureaucratic reform.
Supervisor: Tosey, Paul ; Bristow, Alexandra Sponsor: Government of Brunei Darussalam
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available