The performance of public organizations is one of the key topics in public administration research and practice. This topic was examined at the ‘The Determinants of Performance in Public Organizations II’ conference held at the University of Hong Kong in December 2006. The conference was held in association with the Public Management Research Association. In the present symposium we introduce four of the articles presented at conference. The articles explore: network performance (Kenis and Provan), goal ambiguity (Lee et al.), environmental shocks (Meier and O’Toole), and diversity (Pitts and Jarry). Alongside this we spotlight the importance of this field and introduce three research themes—contingency theory, measurement and data, and analysis.