The role of best value and performance management in developing change within UK councils: an exploratory study. An inquiry into whether performance management can deliver change in councils' waste services

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Government is seeking to "modernise" councils which, the literature reviews highlighted, has been exemplified over the past couple of decades by initiatives and programmes launched as catalysts for change. Recently, best value and the Comprehensive Performance Assessment have been the most high-profile. The review showed how these programmes were framed around councils' services using performance management to instil continuous improvement and customer focus. In order to gauge whether this has worked, Government has tasked the Audit Commission to independently inspect and score councils and their services which has stimulated change and is currently challenging some councils' priorities. The literature review also recognised that councils' waste services were simultaneously tackling new legislation, in the form of the European Commission's Landfill Directive, which was changing the face of the UK industry. Lately, these services' momentum has been given added impetus by the Landfill Allowances Trading Scheme, which was introduced by government to affect the Directive by setting annually decreasing targets for every council in England and Wales ( a comparable scheme applies in Northern Ireland). If a council fails to meet these in any year between 2006 and 2020, they face the prospect of being fined. Given that both these agendas were asking for improvements in councils' service delivery, this study inquired after best value and if their waste services were using performance management to structure change. A number of "best practice" case studies were consulted to examine if performance management frameworks and tools were being used to manage change. The results however show that, due to their compliance culture and the drive of key people, councils' waste services are focusing on meeting their targets and, similar to Leonard and McAdam (2003), a strategic/operational divide appears to have developed between these services and their councils.
Date of Award1 Jan 2007
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorRodney McAdam (Supervisor)

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