Performance management in the central governments of New Zealand and Brazil: a comparative study
Woortmann, Mario Fensterseifer
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The modernization of the public sector in most countries brought along reforms based on models and practices imported from the private sector (Halachmi, 2002). With the movement of New Public Management, similarities started to be found among governments across borders, however each with a different pace of implementation and with its own obstacles. This study investigated performance management at the employee level, in the central governments of New Zealand and Brazil. Whereas New Zealand has been acknowledged as a model of public sector reform (Halligan, 2007), Brazil is currently improving its HRM policies to seek more efficiency and accountability in this moment of economic growth. However, both countries have faced and still struggle with some dysfunctions in their performance management systems. This research utilized an archival analysis of performance management documents together with a questionnaire survey to observe what is formalized on paper and what is done in practice. Internal guidelines, laws and decrees were analysed against the most prominent literature on performance management, and members of the HR departments of ten Ministries provided interesting answers that either corroborated, contradicted or complemented these documents. In the end, the performance management frameworks of both countries were compared, showing similarities and differences in procedures, application and potential dysfunctions. Whereas the New Zealand frameworks seem to be more evolved, they face dysfunctions related to management commitment, a weak link to pay and overly subjective measures. In Brazil, a more precise link to pay contrasts with some framework issues, besides resistance to change, inadequate use of the systems and instances of paternalism. All in all, this study shows that in both countries the rhetorics and realities have some distance between them.