The Riskiness of Public Sector Performance Measurement: A Review and Research Agenda

Suresh Cuganesan*, James Guthrie, Vedran Vranic

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Citations (Scopus)


Public sector performance measurement (PM) practices can be risky. It is imperative that research engages with the riskiness of PM and how this might be reduced. To help move towards a less risky state of public sector PM, where benefits outweigh negative potential, this paper reviews studies on PM risk to ascertain what existing research indicates about (a) the risks of PM (b) the conditions in which the risks of PM are more likely to manifest, and (c) the approaches that mitigate the risks of PM. Based on this, the paper outlines a way forward for public sector PM research. Overall the paper makes a number of contributions. First, it brings together a disparate and fragmented field in reviewing studies examining the risks of PM. Second, the paper reframes the research question that public sector PM risk research and public sector PM studies more broadly should engage in. Third, specific suggestions are offered in terms of how future research might proceed in a coordinated manner, examining and informing practice where PM is part of an integrated and enabling control system for strategising and managing in the public sector, and where citizen-centric PM is utilised as part of multiple evaluation modes to more effectively support accountability to external constituents.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)279-302
Number of pages24
JournalFinancial Accountability and Management
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • performance measurement
  • public sector
  • risk

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