The effects of targets and indicators on policy formulation: Narrowing down, crowding out and locking in

Christina Boswell, Steven Yearley, Colin Fleming, Eugenia Rodrigues, Graham Spinardi

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Abstract / Description of output

Targets have become an increasingly important component of governance and public sector management in the last two decades, especially across OECD countries. Such targets often involve the use of performance indicators, a policy tool introduced to measure and vouchsafe how far specific targets have been met. Indeed, the possibility of reliably measuring the achievement of targets through performance indicators (PIs) is generally a precondition for the selection of targets (Bevan and Hood 2006; Audit Commission 2000a). The two policy instruments are thus closely interconnected. The received wisdom among policymakers is that PIs and targets are management tools, adopted to improve the quality and value-for-money of public services. By introducing clear and transparent targets, and subjecting these to regular monitoring through measuring them against PIs, governments incentivize improvements in the performance of those involved in service delivery, and increase public accountability (HM Treasury 1998; Audit Commission 2000a; 2000b). Ostensibly, then, targets and related PIs might be best characterized as instruments for ensuring the effective delivery, or implementation, of policies and programmes that have already been adopted.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Tools of Policy Formulation
Subtitle of host publicationActors, Capacities, Venues and Effects
EditorsAndrew J. Jordan, John R. Turnpenny
Place of PublicationCheltenham
PublisherEdward Elgar Publishing
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)9781783477043
ISBN (Print)9781783477036, 9781783477050
Publication statusPublished - 24 Apr 2015

Publication series

NameNew Horizons in Public Policy
PublisherEdward Elgar Publishing

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • economics and finance
  • valuation
  • politics and public policy
  • european politics and policy
  • public administration and management
  • public policy


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