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Capacity, Leadership, and Organizational Performance: Testing the Black Box Model of Public Management


Rhys Andrews is a senior research fellow at Cardiff Business School and a member of the Centre for Local and Regional Government Research at Cardiff University. His research interests focus on the impact of organizational environments on public service performance. His publications include articles in the Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory and Public Administration Review.

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 100 articles in academic journals such as the Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, Public Administration, Public Administration Review, Public Choice, and Urban Affairs Review.


According to recent “black box” models of public management, managerial capacity is a critical component for achieving service delivery improvement. In particular, black box models assume that the impact of management systems is maximized through integration with effective leadership. This assumption is tested by analyzing the effects of managerial capacity and organizational leadership on the performance of English local governments, while controlling for a range of other variables, including organizational size, resources, external constraints, and past performance. Empirical results show that capacity possesses a positive statistical association with local government performance and that leadership can enhance the impact of effective management systems.