Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

Public Administration

First Advisor's Name

Howard Frank

First Advisor's Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Dario Moreno

Third Advisor's Name

Sukumar Ganapati

Fourth Advisor's Name

Keith Revell

Keywords

Management capacity, performance measurement, public housing, new public management

Date of Defense

5-16-2011

Abstract

Since the 1990s, scholars have paid special attention to public management’s role in theory and research under the assumption that effective management is one of the primary means for achieving superior performance. To some extent, this was influenced by popular business writings of the 1980s as well as the reinventing literature of the 1990s. A number of case studies but limited quantitative research papers have been published showing that management matters in the performance of public organizations.

My study examined whether or not management capacity increased organizational performance using quantitative techniques. The specific research problem analyzed was whether significant differences existed between high and average performing public housing agencies on select criteria identified in the Government Performance Project (GPP) management capacity model, and whether this model could predict outcome performance measures in a statistically significant manner, while controlling for exogenous influences. My model included two of four GPP management subsystems (human resources and information technology), integration and alignment of subsystems, and an overall managing for results framework. It also included environmental and client control variables that were hypothesized to affect performance independent of management action.

Descriptive results of survey responses showed high performing agencies with better scores on most high performance dimensions of individual criteria, suggesting support for the model; however, quantitative analysis found limited statistically significant differences between high and average performers and limited predictive power of the model. My analysis led to the following major conclusions: past performance was the strongest predictor of present performance; high unionization hurt performance; and budget related criterion mattered more for high performance than other model factors. As to the specific research question, management capacity may be necessary but it is not sufficient to increase performance.

The research suggested managers may benefit by implementing best practices identified through the GPP model. The usefulness of the model could be improved by adding direct service delivery to the model, which may also improve its predictive power. Finally, there are abundant tested concepts and tools designed to improve system performance that are available for practitioners designed to improve management subsystem support of direct service delivery.

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