Title

Can the ‘Courthouse Gang’ Go Modern?: Lessons From The Adoption Of Performance-Based Management By County Governments

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

3-2008

Publication Title

State and Local Government Review

Volume

31

Issue

3

First Page

387

Last Page

406

Abstract

County governments find themselves in the throes of a functional transformation that is prompting many county officials to find new ways to manage. Whereas in the past county governments were “often sleepy, patronage-riddled organization[s] resistant to change,” many counties have adopted various elements of performance-based management systems (Miller, 2002, p. 23). This article begins with a brief review of the metamorphosis in county government and then turns to a comparative analysis of changes in county government management capacity. Drawing on the Government Performance Project study, the degree to which Managing for Results (MFR) systems have been put into place by selected county governments is described. The comparative analysis also yields important lessons about the challenges associated with the movement toward results-oriented management. An important implication is the utility of MFR systems for overcoming the structural fragmentation of the loosely coupled network of independent offices that comprise county government.