Private Child Welfare Agency Managers' Perceptions of the Effectiveness of Different Performance Management Strategies
In all states, public and private child welfare agencies partner in an effort to deliver effective and accountable services to children and families (XXXX, Ensign, & Flaherty, 2008). While anecdotal information suggests that managers in competitive markets have incentives to carefully select and implement performance management strategies (PMS) (YYYY, Briggs, & Aisenberg, 2009; Smith, 2010), little is known about the effectiveness of these strategies. This paper explores managerial perceptions regarding the usefulness of three PMS representing different leadership approaches as viewed through the Competing Values Framework (Quinn, 1988): supervisory review within the human resources model; priority review within internal processes; and outcome management within the rational goal model. Managerial perceptions of the effectiveness of these PMS efforts are examined in relation to organizational characteristics, capacity, and interagency competition.
These relationships were examined through analyses of data from the National Survey of Private Child and Family Serving Agencies (NSPCFSA), which provides multi-state data on the organizational constructs under investigation. NSPCFSA gathered data from 446 nonprofit and for-profit agencies currently serving child welfare populations; agency directors completed an online survey between May-June 2011. The current study sample was restricted to 334 agencies with full information available for analysis. Three dependent variables were derived from 5-point Likert-type items pertaining to directors’ perceptions of the effectiveness of supervisory review, priority review, and outcome management strategies. Separate multivariate ordinal logistic regression models with robust standard errors were used to examine the relationship between each PMS and the following covariates: an additive score of four Likert-type survey items pertaining to directors’ perceptions of the degree of competition for public funds, private funds, staff, and clientele with other local private child welfare agencies (alpha = 0.78); a dichotomous variable indicating whether the agency had a dedicated program evaluation unit; and a set of control variables (e.g., organizational demographics, perceived levels of interorganizational collaboration).
Descriptively, the average perceived effectiveness of each PMS ranged from 4.17-4.38, corresponding with a rating between “moderately effective” and “very effective”. Multivariate analyses determined that perceived competition within the private sector was positively associated with the perceived effectiveness of priority review (OR=1.06, p=0.002) and supervisory review (OR=1.07, p=0.005). Additionally, executives from agencies that had dedicated program evaluation staff rated the effectiveness of supervisory review (OR=1.63, p=0.045) and outcomes management systems (OR=1.90, p=0.005) more highly than those without such staff.
Conclusions and Implications:
As child welfare systems are increasingly required by public bureaucracies to improve outcomes for children and families, these results provide insight into the effectiveness of PMS from the perspective of private agency directors. Results suggest that levels of interorganizational competition among peer agencies as well as agency capacity for performance management are related to how organizations manage contractual performance. Further research is needed concerning the long-term utility of different PMS in the presence of interorganizational competition as well as other contractually-specified relationships (Van Slyke, 2007). Implications for practice include clarifying how different PMS can be used to improve managerial decision-making and promote effective child welfare service delivery.