TED8: Milan

Over the last decades, public bureaucracies in West and Eastern Europe have implemented performance management systems, as recommended by managers, management consultants, and international organisations. In recent years however researchers have documented two lines of critiques. In some cases, performance information is not used, making performance management a paper exercise. In other cases, the use of indicators leads to unintended effects when the indicators become a goal in themselves. The intensity of these effects seems to differ across different contexts. In many respects, performance measurement and management have turned to ideology: while widely acknowledged, they are unevenly applied, and their meaning varies in different countries.  Performance and performance management do not necessarily have the same meaning in different countries.

With the evidence of its shortcomings growing, performance management finds itself at the crossroads. The engineer’s logic – set targets, measure attainment and punish or reward – has reached its limits. The world of public administration is way too complex for that. The context is political and hence perspectives are different.  Performance is evaluated internally in terms of efficiency gains and externally in terms of social impacts. An alternative to the command & control approach is to use performance information for learning and dialogue. Rather than being a system to punish and to hold actors to account, performance management should focus on the future. Performance indicators should inform dialogue and help us to understand complexity. Could this be the reinvention of performance management?

In this TED, we will study this proposition. We will take stock of existing performance management efforts and ask ourselves whether performance management can address its critiques when developed as a learning system. This being a dialogue, we will try to understand differences between countries and administrative traditions in Europe, but we will also pay attention to shared challenges that European governments are facing. Papers can evaluate current practices as well as propose prospective directions.

Venue of the dialogue:

TED8 is organized by the the Department of Policy Analysis and Public Management of the Bocconi University, Milan, Italy. The venue is situated close to the center of the city and can easily be reached by public transport. Hotel capacity will be provided close by.

Format of the dialogue 

TED8, like the previous Trans-European Dialogues, is a focused, mainly but not exclusively by-invitation meeting of 40-50 participants from Europe. Rather than formally presenting all attendees’ papers the format centers around intense dialogue and discussions between the participants. The discussions will be structured into different sessions, each of which starting with a keynote presentation followed by participants’ oral contributions reflecting on the key elements of their research.

By sending this Invitation we ask each invitee to develop and submit one or two of the following alternatives:

a)    A proposal (abstract) for a full paper to be presented for the TED8 event;

b)    Apart from the scientific papers, shorter formats are encouraged such as short comments by the participants.

c)    One or two brief (100-300 words long) propositions related to the main theme, along with an explanation of how the propositions reflect their own research interests and activities. These propositions will be the basis of a brief presentation at the TED 8 event.