Toward the Self-Evaluating Organization? An Empirical Test of the Wildavsky Model


  • George A. Boyne,

    1. George A. Boyne is a professor of public-sector management at Cardiff Business School. His current research focuses on the explanation and evaluation of organizational performance in the public sector. He has published more than 80 articles in academic journals such as Public Administration Review, Public Choice, Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, and Urban Affairs Review. E-mail:
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  • Julian S. Gould-Williams,

    1. Julian S. Gould-Williams is a lecturer in human resource management at Cardiff Business School and a member of The Centre for Regional and Local Government Research at Cardiff University. His research focuses on the impact of management practices on employee performance in private-and public-sector organizations. E-mail:
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  • Jennifer Law,

    1. Jennifer Law is a principal lecturer in public management at the University of Glamorgan. Her research focuses on the performance and accountability of public organizations, especially local authorities in the United Kingdom. Her publications include articles in Public Administration Review, Public Policy and Administration, and Local Government Studies. E-mail:
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  • Richard M. Walker

    1. Richard M. Walker is a professor of public policy and management. He is based at Cardiff University and Hong Kong University. His research interests are the impact of management reform, strategic management, and innovation. He has published in journals including Public Administration Review, Public Management Review, and Urban Studies. E-mail:
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This article presents the first empirical test of Wildavsky's model of self-evaluation by public organizations. We elucidate Wildavsky's arguments and identify six variables that have theoretical effects on self-evaluation. A statistical model that incorporates these variables explains 46 percent of the variation in self-evaluation. The evidence suggests that self-evaluation is positively related to leadership support and employee involvement, and negatively related to the number of organizational sub-units undertaking evaluation at the same time. Refinements to the Wildavsky model are proposed, and conclusions are drawn on the theory and practice of self-evaluation by public organizations.