Strategic Management and Public Service Performance: The Way Ahead


George A. Boyne is a professor of public sector management at Cardiff Business School, Cardiff University. His research interests include public service performance, organizational strategy, and leadership succession in public organizations.

Richard M. Walker is a professor of public management and policy at the University of Hong Kong (Department of Sociology and Kadoorie Institute). His research interests include public management and performance, innovation, urban management, and sustainable development.


Strategic management is now prominent on the agenda of public administration scholars and practitioners. In this review, the authors outline why approaches based on strategy are suited to public agencies, noting the ways in which strategy varies across public organizations, seeks to match internal capacities to organizational environments, and shapes the impact of external and internal constraints on performance. Empirical evidence on the impact of strategy on performance is placed under the microscope, and while there are many positive relationships, the evidence base is limited in terms of its scope, data, methods, measures, and coverage. The authors trace out what needs to be done to move the field forward, noting in particular that theoretical enrichment, empirical variety, and explanations of causal complexity are likely to come from a synthesis of models of strategy and publicness.