Measuring institutional performance in achieving urban sustainability

Bas Denters*, Pieter-Jan Klok

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademicpeer-review

    2 Citations (Scopus)


    From the 1980s onwards, many Western democracies started to establish systems of performance measurement. As Pollitt and Bouckaert (2000: 86-87) have argued, measuring public performance is by no means new. It is beyond doubt, however, that ‘interest in measuring public sector activities has blossomed over the last quarter century’ (Pollitt and Bouckaert 2000: 87). The authors observe that systems of performance indicators are now used in a wide array of countries and in a variety of policy and service sectors (Pollitt and Bouckaert 2000: 87-89). In this chapter we focus on performance management in local government. There is little doubt that the adoption of performance management in local government is often the result of central government initiatives. In reviewing central-local relations many national governments have implemented performance-based systems of management and control. In some cases (e.g. in some of the Australian states (Aulich 2005) or in the UK (Wilson 2005)) the implementation of such systems was essentially a top-down process. In other cases central government has tried to persuade local governments to adopt such systems, as was the case in The Netherlands (e.g. Helden and Bogt 2001) and in some other Australian states (Aulich 2004). In these more horizontal approaches, the implementation of performance management was often part of a policy of devolution of powers to local government. An example is the Dutch Urban Policy Initiative. In order to tackle effectively the problems of large urban areas, central government committed itself to broadening the powers of city governments. Central and city governments signed agreements, cast in the form of covenants, on how these new powers were to be exercised. The local authorities committed themselves under these covenants to achieving tangible results, and also agreed to cooperate in national urban performance monitoring (Denters 2002).
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationLegitimacy and Urban Governance
    Subtitle of host publicationA Cross-National Comparative Study
    EditorsHubert Heinelt, David Sweeting, Panagiotis Getimis
    PublisherTaylor & Francis
    Number of pages17
    ISBN (Print)9780203099629
    Publication statusPublished - 17 May 2006

    Publication series

    NameRoutledge studies in governance and public policy


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