Explaining the Dynamics of Management by Objectives and Results Post-NPM: The Case of the Swedish National Executive

Helena Wockelberg, Shirin Ahlbäck Öberg


This research concludes that the Swedish institution of Management by Objectives and Results (MBOR) has changed as a result of a top-down reform. The aim of the reform, which was to reduce the number of requests for performance information that the government makes to the central government agencies, has been successfully implemented. In analysing the national government’s requests for performance information from 182 central government agencies (N=1752), this study confirms earlier claims of MBOR de-escalation. De-escalation is explained by stakeholder learning and the new policy that re-interprets performance management in terms that fit the ideals of New Public Governance. This research concludes that the size of an agency’s budget has a positive effect on the total number of requests and the government’s interest in quantitative performance indicators. Agency tasks that are relatively easy to measure and count have a significant positive effect on the number of government requests. Task is more important than budget size when governments decide what mix of indicators to request from a specific agency. In this respect, the Swedish government adjusts its requests for information to the agencies’ tasks. The results from this study contribute to the ongoing debate on the application of performance management in a post-New Public Management setting.

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Scandinavian Journal of Public Administration

School of Public Administration, Box 712 - SE-405 30 Göteborg

ISSN: 2001-7405, E-ISSN: 2001-7413