Can enhanced performance management support public sector change?

Fiona BUICK, Deborah Blackman, Michael O'Donnell, Janine O'Flynn, Damian West

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose-The purpose of this paper is to focus on the potential role that performance management could play in enabling employees’ adaptability to change and, therefore, successful change implementation. Design/methodology/approach-This research adopted a qualitative case study research design, focussed on seven case studies within the Australian Public Service (APS). This study utilized documentary analysis, semi-structured individual and group interviews. Findings-The findings of this research demonstrate that adaptability to change is integral for high performance; however, the constant change faced by many public servants is disruptive. The authors posit that applying a performance framework developed by Blackman et al. (2013a, b) to change implementation will help overcome, or at least mitigate, these issues. The authors argue that applying this framework will: Enable adaptability to change; and provide an ongoing management function that enables change to occur. Research limitations/implications-This research has been limited to seven organizations within the APS, yet it does reveal interesting implications in terms of the apparent role of performance management in both developing change capacity and supporting espoused outcomes. Practical implications-This research identifies the potential role that performance management can play in supporting effective change implementation through enabling employees to cope better with the change through enabling clarity, purpose and alignment with the organizational direction. Originality/value-The originality of this paper stems from the synthesis of different strands of literature, specifically high performance, performance management and change management, and empirical research in the public sector to provide a new way of looking at performance management as a change enabler.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)271-289
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Organizational Change Management
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2015


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