Hierarchical control and performance regimes in local government

Suzana Grubnic, Margaret Woods

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to consider hierarchical control as a mode of governance, and analyses the extent of control exhibited by central government over local government through the best value (BV) and comprehensive performance assessment (CPA) performance regimes.
Design/methodology/approach – This paper utilises Ouchi's framework and, specifically, his articulation of bureaucratic or hierarchical control in the move towards achievement of organisational objectives. Hierarchical control may be inferred from the extent of “command and control” by Central Government, use of rewards and sanctions, and alignment to government priorities and discrimination of performance.
Findings – CPA represents a more sophisticated performance regime than BV in the governance of local authorities by central government. In comparison to BV, CPA involved less scope for dialogue with local government prior to introduction, closer inspection of and direction of support toward poorer performing authorities, and more alignment to government priorities in the weightings attached to service blocks.
Originality/value - The paper focuses upon the hierarchic/bureaucratic mode of governance as articulated by Ouchi and expands on this mode in order to analyse shifts in performance regimes in the public sector.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)445-455
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Public Sector Management
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 10 Jul 2009


  • performance management
  • local government
  • governance
  • United Kingdom


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