Efficiency in the Public Sector

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Regardless of where we live, the management of the public sector impacts on our lives. Hence, we all have an interest, one way or another, in the achievement of efficiency and productivity improvements in the activities of the public sector. For a government agency that provides a public service, striving for unreasonable benchmark targets for efficiency may lead to a deterioration of service quality, along with an increase in stress and job dissatisfaction for public sector employees. Slack performance targets may lead to gross inefficiency, poor quality of service, and low self-esteem for employees. In the case of regulation, inappropriate policies can lead to unprecedented disasters. Examples include the decimation of fish stocks through mismanagement of fisheries, and power blackouts through inappropriate restrictions on electricity generators and distributors. Efficient taxation policies minimise the tax bill for citizens. In all of these cases, efficient management is required, although it is often unclear how to assess this efficiency. In this volume, several authors consider various aspects and contexts of performance measurement. Hence, this volume represents a unique collection of advances in efficiency assessment for the public sector by leading researchers in the field. Efficiency in the Public Sector is divided into two sections. The first is titled Issues in Public Sector Efficiency Evaluation and comprises of chapters 1-4. The second section is titled Efficiency Analysis in the Public Sector - Advances in Theory and Practice. This division is somewhat arbitrary, in the sense there are significant overlapping themes in both sections. However, it serves to separate chapters that can be characterised as dealing with broader issues (Section I), from chapters that can be characterised as focusing on specific theoretical problems and empirical cases (Section II).