Prosocial Values and Performance Management Theory: Linking Perceived Social Impact and Performance Information Use

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Abstract

Performance management techniques are presented as control mechanisms to save money and hold bureaucrats accountable, consistent with negative agency theory assumptions of bureaucrats. We propose an alternative theory of performance management that rests on prosocial values. This theory argues that public servants who see the social impact of their work are more likely to use performance metrics. We operationalize performance information use in terms of purposeful use for internal organizational means, and political use for external legitimation. Those who perceive that their work has a strong social impact are likely to pursue both types of uses, to improve both the effectiveness of their services, and to maintain resources. The data come from a cross-sectional survey of U.S. public and nonprofit employees.

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