” Government Oversight of Organizations Engaged in Multiple Activities: Do Centralized Performance Schemes Encourage Quantity or Quality?” by Joanne ROBERTS
University of Toronto
A. Abigail PAYNE
Do performance measures in the public sector create the right incentives? This is a particularly important question for the oversight of public or quasi-public organizations that perform multiple tasks. Public sector oversight often ties performance to budgets for the organization. We study this issue in the context of oversight of public research and doctoral universities in the United States. These universities are engaged in many activities; research and teaching are two of the primary activities. Throughout the last decade several states have instituted performance measures that are primarily focused on evaluating a university’s success in teaching. We examine whether the multitasking and other theories that have been developed for the private sector have any implications in this context as it relates to university research activities. We find striking results that depend on whether a university is considered the state’s flagship institution. Research activity increases at the flagship institutions after the adoption of performance measures. Most of this increase in activity is with respect to the level of research funding and the number of articles produced. In contrast, research funding and the number of publications falls dramatically at the non-flagship institutions. There is some evidence that citations per publication increase after the adoption of performance standards.