Performance management in public institutions after the Covid-19 pandemic.
New paradigms between reforms and change processes.
RIPM – Vol. 5 – No. 2 | 2022
Deadline for submission: December 20th, 2022
Special Focus Overview
The Special Focus is a traditional in-depth thematic focus of the Rivista Italiana di Public Management (RIPM). The thematic focus has a fundamental space in our journal because it is aimed at determining the privileged attention paid to a current issue, capable of promoting reflection and triggering a debate among scholars, public and private management, as well as the environment inside and outside public institutions.
RIPM’s Special Focus intends to confirm one of the founding principles of the journal: to create a space of reflection to guide, in a specific field identified from time to time, the most innovative research activity and paradigmatic representation with a multidisciplinary approach. One of the specific characteristics of RIPM is, in fact, the expression of a predictive view aimed at intercepting current and paradigmatic strands of research to be analyzed from a broad perspective, through the convergence of a wide variety of scientific approaches of research and analysis, among others: economic, legal, political, philosophical, sociological and anthropological.
Special Focus Goals
After two issues of RIPM gathering studies and contributions about The National Recovery and Resilience Plan (Piano Nazionale di Ripresa e Resilienza, NRRP) , we firmly believe it is necessary to reflect on models and techniques of strategic management of organizations and human resources. The Special Focus “Performance management in public institutions. New paradigms between reforms and change processes” brings to everyone’s attention a topic that has been, in alternating phases, very successful, but that we do not believe enjoys the right relevance among scholars.
The extraordinary international events of the past three years have certainly resulted in a state of fragility, at least potential fragility, of both administrations and individuals. There have been exceptional events and equally exceptional responses to those events by public administration and individuals. Consider the structuring of remote work during the expansion and continuation of the Covid-19 pandemic. Undoubtedly, we would never have imagined three years ago that such a large-scale “experimentation” of remote work, and for such a long time, would have ever occurred. And it can be said that this trend is not reversible. There is a before and an after Covid-19 for people and, therefore, for systems supporting work organizations. Even when no new rules have been introduced in labor relations after the pandemic or, worse, when rules have gone back to the previous status quo.
Reforms and change processes are in focus now more than ever, and performance management can be a key pivotal element.
A critical variable determines a fundamental substrate underlying the reflection on how one can innovate in terms of performance management paradigms. It is related to the great impetus that is being given to technological changes and the digitization of work processes, dematerialization, reengineering of activities, and reorganization of relations between actors inside and outside institutions.
Remote work and the use of technology in the production of public services and the activities required to deliver services represent a point of no return and a non-neutral advance in redefining the technical substrate underlying the organization and division of labor in institutions. One could reason about how change “proceeds,” whether by leaps and nonlinear advances (as would seem to be the case with the rise of remote work and dematerialization of processes) or in a gradual and guided manner. This may be a special topic of the Special Focus. But we also want to focus on performance management as a tool that can reshape, in a structured and rigorous way, the public administration-individual relationship (but also public administration-individual-society if one wonders about participatory evaluation open to external stakeholders) even after a crisis or when a crisis persists. Certainly, the coherence of different tools creating virtuous work conditions and the measurement of individual or group contribution is highly topical. Human capital in public institutions requires scholars and organizations to reflect on what has happened in recent years to propose mechanisms for a seamless reconnection between the experiments that have taken place, perhaps not consciously and fully intended, and the enhancement of experiences.
Reversals of trends that have been too long established, new paradigms, a new proactive tension to make that innovation leap so needed today is what we want to bring to the fore with the Special Focus. One should not forget general phenomena in the world of labor that are ever-growing and increased exponentially during the height of the pandemic; these are global and certainly alarming phenomena, such as staff resignations even before employees find a new job, the so-called Great Resignation phenomenon , or Quiet quitting (also referred to as phase two of the Great Resignation) i.e., “going out quietly” in which a motivational and performance “impasse” forces workers to “step back” while still not leaving their job.
These days, people, especially young people i.e., the target audience receiving most attention, seek a work-life balance, opportunities for career advancement, a transparent and true evaluation of newly acquired skills and investment in new skills, gender balance, linear career paths as antidotes to the structural problems that affect many public administrations: constant stress, burnout, high corporate turnover.
Reforms of public institutions, and perhaps change processes consistent with them, do not seem to capture what is happening and feeding the needs of civil servants. Or perhaps the existing rules are consistent with the needs of public employees and businesses but are not interpreted in the most appropriate way. Performance and performance management can be the drivers for change in public administration.
Performance measurement and evaluation systems in the public sphere, as tools to support organizational change and individual development, are issues of interest to different target audiences, both internal and external to public administrations, requiring an in-depth study based on a multidisciplinary approach and a critical and proactive outlook, in line with RIPM’s vision.
In the present issue, scholars are invited to explore the notion of performance (organizational and individual) and performance management, the most innovative tools, the experiments that have taken place in public institutions, as well as the different phases of the performance cycle including evaluation, also in the light of the policies adopted during and after the Covid-19 pandemic. But it will be interesting to reason about the failures that empirical evidence has revealed or that emerge from applied research, including at European and international level, as well as the proposition of new paradigms consistent with new models of governance and management in public administrations in relation to institutional reforms.
While authors are free to choose what aspects to explore, the Special Focus suggests some, non-exhaustive, priority lines of reflection as areas of investigation
What leadership models are relevant today in relation to performance management goals and tools, including in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic? How soft skills and rigorous performance management architectures can be directly connected? How to build biunivocal relationships between reforms, change processes and performance management models? Which governance models are most consistent with the enhancement of performance management? How to build public action planning processes and consistent performance goals? What paradigms make a public institution reinforcing the performance management approach truly accountable? How to define a system of relationship between privacy rights, codes of conduct and performance management models? How to develop corporate welfare models consistent with performance and performance management? What institutional, both internal and external, and organizational actors enable a public administration to create performance management processes in line with the times we are living in? How to create a synallagmatic relationship between performance measurement and evaluation?
What relationship exists between the complexity of bureaucratic processes (red tape), public employee outcomes, and organizational performance? When is strategic planning beneficial rather than a hindrance to organizational performance?
As to Italy, it is suggested to reflect on some topical areas designed by the Presidency of the Council of Ministers for the technical-methodological guidance required to develop performance measurement and evaluation activities in public administrations: strengthening the strategic planning capacity of administrations: Piao, KPIs and participation; strengthening and enhancement of the role of OIV (Internal Evaluation Bodies); digitization of the performance planning and evaluation process; and enhancement of human capital and skills also through individual evaluation.
The Presidency of the Council of Ministers itself highlights the critical issues existing in the country -poor quality of objectives and indicators, limited integration with the economic-financial planning cycle, limited involvement of key decision-makers, limited ability to select relevant content, poorly developed management control systems, limited attention to periodic monitoring, limited use of external or participatory forms of evaluation, involvement of the Internal Evaluation Body – this should be overcome both on the level of so-called organizational performance as well as on the level of individual performance – high system cost in case of assigning goals to everyone, poor quality of goal communication processes and inadequate management styles, low capacity for differentiation between performance and tendency to full achievement of goals, delays in the conclusion of evaluation activities, weak link between evaluation and other personnel management processes, criticality of the direct link between performance evaluation and economic rewards-.
These are some trajectories suggested for the Special Focus, with the purpose of directing scholars, managers and technicians to consider and enhance a comparative perspective.
Contributing authors are invited to express an innovative – including comparative – framework of research and study, attentive to the enhancement of a plurality of positions; for example, by experimenting with contributions by several authors from different scientific disciplines when their contribution expresses a collaborative and incisive synergy in the proposition of ideas, models and interpretation of the issues addressed.
How to submit a paper
Authors who wish to join the Call – Special Focus – should send the paper citing the code (RIPM – Vol.5 – No. 2 | Special Focus) according to the editorial rules, to the e-mail address: email@example.com
The deadline for submission is December 20th, 2022
The format of the paper should be 10,000 words, including tables and figures, excluding bibliography, using the attached template. See the section for editorial rules, template and FAQ:
 Great resignations, in the United States, and around the world. In 2021, this has been a mass phenomenon with 47 million people actually leaving their jobs.