Beneficiaries’ Participation in the Co-production of Performance Information in a Not-for-profit Organisation
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Performance measurement is vital to strategic decision making in organisations that depend on funding, such as not-for-profit organisations (NFPs) (Medina-Borja & Triantis, 2007). Along with performance reporting, performance measurement is also an important aspect of meeting the accountability obligations of NFPs, as investigated in previous studies (e.g., Yang, 2015). The efficiency and effectiveness of NFP performance are measured by using various performance measures such as input, output and outcome measures (Vogt, 1999). It has been noted that outcome measures are particularly important to NFPs because they capture the results that the organisation’s activities and services achieve for beneficiaries (Benjamin, 2013). Previous studies have pointed out the significance of beneficiaries’ involvement in performance measurement practices to strengthen downward accountability (Benjamin, 2008; Yang & Northcott, 2019a). In particular, Yang and Northcott (2019a, p. 253) examine “whether a coproduction approach to performance measurement can help NFPs identify appropriate outcome measures, collect meaningful data to monitor outcomes achievement, and enhance their decision-making and accountability around public service delivery” (p. 253). However, there has been limited research that has incorporated the perspectives of beneficiaries about such co-production approaches, usually due to beneficiaries’ vulnerable status and/or dispersed location. The current study fills this gap in the literature by responding to the call (e.g., from Yang & Northcott, 2019a) to include the perspectives of beneficiaries in studies about the co-production of NFP’s performance information. By including the voices and perspectives of the beneficiaries, this study provides new insights into co-production approaches to performance measurement and reporting that seek to meet the needs of both funders and beneficiaries. This research is informed by constructivist/interpretivist paradigm and involves a case study of a New Zealand NFP. Ten semi-structured interviews were conducted to explore the perceptions of six beneficiaries and four staff who are involved in dealing with performance information in the case study NFP. This interview data was triangulated against organisational documents and information on its website. Thematic analysis (Braun & Clarke, 2006) was used to draw out key themes in the findings by generating codes and themes to produce meaningful analysis. The study examined the extent of beneficiaries’ involvement in outcome-based measurement and reporting practices in the case study NFP. The findings reveal that staff in the case study NFP have a positive view of the potential to co-produce performance information with beneficiaries, but not much effort is made in the implementation of such practices. As a result, the beneficiaries’ involvement in such practices is limited. This study contributes to the NFP accountability literature on outcome-based performance measurement, performance reporting and co-production in NFPs. By drawing on the concept of the co-production of performance information, it identifies a communication gap and awareness issues amongst the NFP professionals and between the NFP professionals and the beneficiaries. Concerning practice, this study highlights the need to investigate the communication gap and awareness issues in New Zealand NFPs to improve the co-production of performance information for better outcomes.