Performance indicators and the management of further education in Scotland

Mackie, Robert (2001). Performance indicators and the management of further education in Scotland. PhD thesis The Open University.



The focus of this research is on New Public Management and the implementation of public policy with specific reference to the policy on performance indicators and the management of further education in Scotland. The thesis considers the body of literature on public policy implementation and the current state of knowledge of performance indicators and their use in public management in general and in further education in Scotland in particular. Scottish further education faced radical change in the period from 1990 and part of the change was the introduction by Government of prescribed performance indicators. This research examines the public policy-action relationship by considering the implementation of this policy with particular reference to the differences associated with the relationships between performance governance, performance management and consumerism. The empirical elements of this thesis comprise a study of stakeholder perception of the purpose and utility of performance indicators. From this empirical work conclusions are derived which relate to the main beneficiaries of performance indicators and the extent to which public policy is best understood from a `top-down' or a 'bottom-up' perspective. The thesis concludes that neither of these perspectives is sufficient but both are necessary. The recognition of multiple stakeholder interest leads to a conclusion that implementation can only be examined by considering all stakeholder perceptions of the outputs and outcomes of the public policy on performance indicators in Scottish further education. Performance indicators are themselves a good reflection of the way in which NPM is evolving within public services.

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