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Linking theory and practice is a hard job at the best of times, but Talbot's audience is apt to include people with considerable expertise in some parts of the argument and little or none in others. Finding the best way to explain the elements of portions of his narrative to newcomers without boring the already well-schooled is an art in itself, and Talbot is an accomplished artist. Third, his book has a common and consistent thread running through it. It is about something. That thread has a conceptual name; it is consilience; it also has a flesh-and-blood form; his name is E.

Talbot discusses the famous Harvard sociobiologist and coiner of the term in his introduction and mentions him occasionally in the text; but, his presence is never far away. He is unobtrusive, but ever watchful. He is also the source of my aforementioned scepticism. It would be foolish to underestimate the man and his influence.

For over forty years he has been a dominant figure and an inspiration to a variety of branches of the Darwinian tree, not least the now popular field of "evolutionary psychology" and even the slightly more remote domain of "behavioral economics. An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.


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Read preview. Colin Talbot. Examples include financial ratios such as return on assets, return on equity, and return on investment. Other common financial measures include profits and stock price. Customer measures of performance relate to customer attraction, satisfaction, and retention. Starbucks realizes the importance of repeat customers and has taken a number of steps to satisfy and to attract regular visitors to their stores. For example, Starbucks rewards regular customers with free drinks and offers all customers free Wi-Fi access.

Starbucks also encourages repeat visits by providing cards with codes for free iTunes downloads. The featured songs change regularly, encouraging frequent repeat visits. Internal business process measures of performance relate to organizational efficiency. The time it takes to create a new product and bring it to market is another example of this type of measure. Organizations such as Starbucks realize the importance of such efficiency measures for the long-term success of its organization, and Starbucks carefully examines its processes with the goal of decreasing order fulfillment time.

In one recent example, Starbucks efficiency experts challenged their employees to assemble a Mr. Potato Head to understand how work could be done more quickly. One key aspect for organizations producing physical goods as compared to services are supply-chain management indicators. Of course, to reduce supply inventory, data must be both timely and accurate or else you run out of key parts and the production line stops….

The Culture Factor

Learning and growth measures of performance relate to the future. Consequently, developing new ways to add value will be needed as the organization continues to adapt to an evolving environment. An example of a learning and growth measure is the number of new skills learned by employees every year. One way Starbucks encourages its employees to learn skills that may benefit both the firm and individuals in the future is through its tuition reimbursement program. Employees who have worked with Starbucks for more than a year are eligible. Starbucks hopes that the knowledge acquired while earning a college degree might provide employees with the skills needed to develop innovations that will benefit the company in the future.

Another benefit of this program is that it helps Starbucks reward and retain high-achieving employees. This notion was introduced in the early s but did not attract much attention until the late s. The firm works to be profitable as well, of course. Organizational performance is a multidimensional concept, and wise managers rely on multiple measures of performance when gauging the success or failure of their organizations.

The triple bottom line provides another tool to help executives focus on performance targets beyond profits alone; this approach stresses the importance of social and environmental outcomes. Jargon, J. Wall Street Journal , p. Miller, C. We were granted access to all of the main actors including politicians and officials in central and local government and senior officials from the audit bodies that were responsible for conducting the assessments in each country.

This enabled us to build up a very rich picture of the WOAs and the context within which they operated. Interviewees were identified from the documentary analysis combined with a snowballing approach whereby additional actors were suggested by early interviewees. Interviews covered a range of questions about the approaches to WOAs, how they linked to wider performance improvement initiatives in their country, how they had been developed, what factors shaped their design and implementation and their perceived outcomes. They were taped and transcribed. By triangulating the responses of all interviewees in each country, we were able to construct a rounded picture of how and why the WOAs had been developed and how they operated in practice.

Defining Culture

We were also able to identify areas of agreement and dissonance between the accounts provided by different actors. Evidence from the documentary analysis and the workshop enabled us to mitigate the risk of elite interviewees exaggerating their own roles in and influence over the design and development of the WOAs. Local governments in the UK are responsible for a wide range of services, including education, social services, housing, planning, waste collection and management, leisure and culture, consumer protection and local highways.


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They also have a role in seeking to promote economic growth and providing community leadership. In Scotland, Wales and most urban areas in England there is a unitary system of local government i. In some areas in England, responsibility is shared between an upper tier of local government county councils and a lower tier district councils Wilson and Game In the UK, central government determines what powers are given to local governments and how much they can spend. National politicians exert considerable influence over local government's spending decisions and take a direct interest in its performance.

Historically, the devolved governments in Scotland and Wales have been more inclined than the UK government responsible for local government in England to work in partnership with local government Midwinter and McGarvey ; McConnell ; Martin et al.

In recent years, however, the relationships have become more conflictual and the Scottish and Welsh governments have adopted more hierarchical approaches in their dealings with local government. Applying the concept of a performance regime to CPA, BVA and the WPI enables us to identify and examine the ways in which interactions between central and local government and other actors determine how WOAs operate and the ways in which they are mediated by formal and informal rules and cultures.

In this section we deploy Hood et al. Insights offered by the frameworks developed by Talbot , Pollitt et al. As explained above, Hood et al. We found that it was possible and indeed necessary to do this because the WOAs in each country were situated within broader approaches to performance assessment and improvement, and as Talbot suggests, we found that it was helpful to map the key institutions and instruments involved at different levels of regime analysis. These operated as bounded systems that could be analysed in their own right.

We found that there were interactions between the WOAs and this wider array of instruments. For example, the criteria used to assess local government performance in CPAs in England were strongly influenced by the priorities and performance targets set out in Local Area Agreements made between central government departments and individual local governments. In Scotland, assessors used statutory performance indicators to inform BVAs.

We found that the key institutions involved and the influence they wielded varied between these three different levels of analysis. For example, WOAs were largely shaped by three key sets of actors: the central government department with responsibility for local government policy, the principal local government audit body and the local government associations bodies which represent and promote the collective interests of local governments. However, at the second level, approaches to local government performance improvement involved a wider range of central government departments including those with responsibility for finance, education, environment, transport and health.

Audit bodies and local government associations exerted much less influence than at the WOA level. So, we found that Talbot's description of a performance regime provided a helpful framework for identifying the key institutions and instruments involved in promoting performance improvement in local government at different levels. But mapping institutions and instruments was not sufficient, because it did not identify or account for the differences between England, Scotland and Wales in the ways in which WOAs were developed and implemented.

To understand this we needed to analyse the origins and operation of the WOAs in detail, and the concept of a regime articulated by Hood et al. We found that all three of these elements proved important to understanding the three WOAs and the differences between them. The type of risk that WOAs were intended to regulate was a complex and contested issue.

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Some interviewees particularly those working in local government defined WOAs as a way of identifying the relatively small minority of local governments that were failing to meet basic standards of service. Our analysis suggested that public preferences and attitudes did not influence WOAs directly. The performance of local government mattered to central government ministers but interviewees believed it had low public salience, partly because few citizens understand which services UK local government provides Ipsos MORI There was no direct public involvement in the process of assessing performance, although some interviewees believed that the results of WOAs would empower citizens to hold their local governments to account.

CPA results for all upper tier and unitary local governments were published every year and on the same day to encourage comparisons between them, and there is evidence that this had an impact on voting intentions where local governments received poor ratings James and John In Wales, WPI reports were not published at all, nor were they seen by central government. The audit body produced an annual report of its overall findings but this contained no information about individual local governments.

This level of secrecy meant that the public had no way of knowing how well their local government was performing and became a source of increasing frustration to ministers who were unable to use WPI reports to monitor each organization's progress. As suggested by Hood et al.

As noted above, the same institutions — government departments, audit bodies and local government associations — were involved in all three countries. However, differences in central—local relations and the distribution of power among the institutions led to significant differences between the WOAs. The Audit Commission reported to senior civil servants and special advisers in the then Department of Transport, Local Government and the Regions.

The Local Government Association was not closely involved and although a small group of local governments were invited to pilot the process, this did not result in any fundamental change to the Audit Commission's original proposals. In Scotland, the process for designing BVAs was much more inclusive and consensual, with local government enjoying far greater influence. A task force with representation from the Scottish government, Audit Scotland, local government, trades unions, professional organizations and the Scottish Consumer Council designed the regime and as a result it enjoyed a high level of support.

Local government had strong support from the minister and exerted considerable influence. The auditors found themselves in a much weaker position than their counterparts in England or Scotland and were handed a regime that they believed had been captured by producer interests and lacked sufficient rigour and transparency. Turning to regime content, Hood et al. Size refers to how much regulation is brought to bear on a risk.

Structure refers to the way in which regulation is organized the distribution of regulatory costs, the complexity of the system and interfaces with other regimes. Like the concept of context, these proved useful in our analysis, although not all were equally enlightening. CPAs were perceived by interviewees to be very aggressive.

As noted above, it conducted annual assessments of all upper tier and unitary local governments in England, plus less frequent CPAs in the district lower tier councils. It proved spectacularly successful in this regard, and between and the Audit Commission enjoyed a period of unprecedented expansion and influence with central government.

Because WPI reports on individual local governments were unpublished, the WPI was not perceived as aggressive or intrusive. The structural dimensions of the three regimes were not a significant distinguishing feature, but were important in explaining change over time. The distribution of costs between regulators and regulatees was similar in all three countries. From onwards, the complexity of the system, particularly the interfaces with other performance assessments, became a distinguishing feature of the ways in which the regimes developed.

Similarly, developments in the Scottish BVA regime after included a new system of shared risk assessments, which require Audit Scotland to work together with other inspectorates to agree on the key risks in each local government and to coordinate an inspection plan to address these risks. The focus shifted from risk assessment to securing continuous improvement, efforts were made to improve coordination between inspectorates and local governments were required to release performance data to the public. In terms of style, all three regimes exhibited a high degree of rule orientation which was designed to ensure transparency about methods and consistency of approach in the assessment of local government.

They therefore sought to test the effectiveness of a local government's political and managerial leadership, its clarity of purpose, its use of resources, and performance management systems. BVAs and WPIs adopted more flexible approaches designed to respond to variations in local context and the priorities defined by each local government.

However, they used similar judgement criteria to CPA, and interviewees from Scotland reported that in practice the process was not as customized or as useful as they hoped. This reflected differences in central—local government relations described above, and in particular the close relationship between ministers and the Welsh Local Government Association.

As explained above, in addition to context and content, Hood et al. They identify three types of controls — the ways in which standards are set directors , how information is gathered to check if standards are being met detectors and how behaviour is modified to ensure compliance with the standards effectors. The key control mechanisms in each of the three WOAs are summarized in table 2. Performance scores were published in league tables and behaviour modification mechanisms emphasized naming and shaming.

By contrast, in Wales, performance standards were influenced by broad principles rather than specific rules and were applied selectively on the basis of a risk assessment undertaken by auditors in conjunction with each local government. BVA standards were articulated as principles to be applied in a way which recognized the particular circumstances in each locality. In summary, the framework developed by Hood et al.

However, we found that the regimes evolved over time. This raised the question of whether applying a regimes perspective can assist longitudinal as well as comparative analysis. Our analysis bears this out, as all three WOAs developed over time and we found that changes were driven by a combination of endogenous and exogenous factors. There were changes in the criteria they used the key lines of enquiry , in resource requirements and in reporting arrangements. Interviewees attributed these to the need for audit bodies to respond to external challenges to the validity and reliability of the regimes.