Marching to Different Drummers? The Performance Effects of Alignment between Political and Managerial Perceptions of Performance Management


  • Richard M. Walker is chair professor of public management in the Department of Public Policy at City University of Hong Kong and associate dean (research and postgraduate studies) in the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences. His current public management research examines questions associated with publicness, performance, innovation, and organizational rules. He sits on the board of directors of the International Research Society for Public Management and was previously a board member of the Public Management Research Association. E-mail:

  • Chan Su Jung is assistant professor in the Department of Public Policy at City University of Hong Kong. His research interests include organizational goal ambiguity, performance measurement and management, turnover, motivation, job attitudes, and leadership in public organizations. E-mail:

  • George A. Boyne is professor of public sector management, pro vice chancellor, and head of the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences at Cardiff University. His current research interests are public service performance, executive succession, and the causes and consequences of administrative intensity in public organizations. Previously, he was president of the Public Management Research Association. He is currently chair of the Public and Nonprofi t Division of the Academy of Management. E-mail:


The relationship between politicians and bureaucrats is central to the administration of modern democratic societies, yet it often is neglected in studies of the performance of public organizations. In this article, the authors examine the performance effects of alignment between politicians’ and senior managers’ perceptions of one of the more pervasive public management reforms over recent decades: performance management. Evidence from a panel of English local governments supports the hypothesis that alignment of views between politicians and senior managers on performance management is associated with better organizational performance. Furthermore, this relationship is strengthened in organizations that display higher levels of role flexibility by managers and greater trust between politicians and managers.