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Output control (the setting of objectives, the use of indicators to measure performance, and the awarding of “incentives”) is the most widespread control method used in Western businesses (Merchant and Otley, 2006). Its implementation has long been a subject of debate, and we would like to contribute to these debates in our own particular way, following the path of comprehensive research (Dumez, 2013), rather than critical research (Bessire, 2002) or the orthodox approach.
Output control, and the debates it generates, has extended to public organizations. The definition of explicit and measurable performance standards and control of the results obtained are some of the features that characterize new public management (NPM) (Hood, 1991), an approach that seems almost inevitably to be accompanied by output control (Biondi et al., 2008). NPM has raised hopes of less bureaucratic public management, focused more on explicit objectives, in line with citizens’ aspirations and needs, and concerned with limiting the waste of resources. The process of “agencification” of public policy, a global phenomenon typical of NPM reforms (Verhoest et al., 2016), whereby organizational units are set performance targets in return for having their work less subject to rules and processes, makes output control “natural”: setting objectives enables actors to be held accountable, thereby legitimizing the setting up of output control and publication of the results in the name of transparency.
This instrumental approach to public management has been the subject of a great deal of research and much criticism (e…

Français

Le contrôle par les résultats, compagnon organique du nouveau management public, se met en place en soulevant bien des difficultés, ce qui en fait l’objet de diverses critiques. Certains évoquent les classiques résistances individuelles au changement, sources de transgressions, et d’autres l’incompatibilité supposée du contrôle par les résultats avec les missions de service public. À l’écart de ces débats, l’article entend témoigner qu’une conformité trop grande au contrôle formel peut nuire à la performance, alors que certaines formes de transgression y contribuent. Les auteurs appuient leur argumentation sur une étude qualitative conduite à Pôle Emploi (une analyse documentaire, 77 entretiens individuels et 10 entretiens collectifs réalisés dans 10 des agences d’une grande région). L’analyse des résultats prenant en compte les contextes locaux (les agences) et les particularités situationnelles montre les effets contrastés des comportements dans l’appropriation d’un outil de contrôle par les résultats. La théorie de la régulation sociale aide à comprendre comment se construisent les attitudes à l’égard de l’introduction d’un système de pilotage par les résultats. L’article témoigne alors de l’importance de l’animation managériale dans l’appropriation d’un outil de contrôle.

  • contrôle par les résultats
  • appropriation
  • outils de gestion
  • transgression
  • théorie de la régulation sociale
English

The implementation of output control, the organic companion of new public management, raises various criticisms. Some refer to the classic individual resistance to change, which is a source of transgression, and others to the supposed incompatibility of output control with public service missions. Away from these debates, this article seeks to show that too much compliance with formal control can harm performance, while certain forms of transgression contribute positively towards it. The authors base their argument on a qualitative study conducted at Pôle emploi (a documentary analysis, 77 individual interviews, and 10 group interviews conducted in 10 job centres in a large region). The analysis of the results taking into account local contexts (the job centres) and situational particularities shows the contrasting effects of compliant and deviant behaviours on the appropriation of an output control tool. Social regulation theory helps us to understand how attitudes are constructed concerning the introduction of an output-based monitoring system. It also highlights the regulatory role of management. The article then shows the importance of managerial leadership in the appropriation of a control tool.

  • output control
  • appropriation
  • management tools
  • transgression
  • social regulation theory
Patrick Gilbert
GREGOR
IAE PARIS – Sorbonne business school
8 bis, rue de la Croix Jarry
75013 Paris
Emmanuelle Gurtner
CEREFIGE
Université de Lorraine
25 rue du Baron Louis
54000 Nancy
Marion Soulerot
GREGOR
IAE Paris – Sorbonne business school
8 bis, rue de la Croix Jarry
75013 Paris
This is the latest publication of the author on cairn.
This is the latest publication of the author on cairn.
This is the latest publication of the author on cairn.
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