New Zealand Public Management in Action: A Case Study of Organizational Performance

Rob Laking


A case study of performance issues in the child protection services of New Zealand’s Department of Child Youth and Family (CYF) is used to discuss the effects of the New Zealand public management system on the allocation of public resources, accountability for performance and central steering of a decentralised management system. During the last six years, there have been three major reviews of the Department’s performance. Concerns with performance are rooted in growing public concern at the rate of family violence and child homicide in New Zealand. The case study concludes that control of child protection services by either outputs or outcomes is difficult and that CYF is likely to continue to experience ambiguity and political struggle over its objectives, the use of procedural rules for control rather than performance measurement and limited ability to learn from error because of the conflict over objectives. The general conclusion is that implementation of performance management systems works best where goals are clear and results can be observed, there are known effects of management intervention, and the management and staff of the organisation can learn from experience.

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