Service delivery by local government employees post- the implementation of NPM: a social capital perspective

Document Type


Publication details

Brunetto, Y & Farr-Wharton, R 2008, 'Service delivery by local government employees post- the implementation of NPM: a social capital perspective', International Journal of Productivity and Performance Management, vol. 57, no. 1, pp. 37-56.

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Peer Reviewed



Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to compare the impact of the quality of employee enablers (in this case measured by the quality of the communication relationship between local government employees and supervisors) with the ideal “high quality social capital network” on the quality of outputs (such as employees’ level of ambiguity in relation to customers and/or their level of productivity).

Design/methodology/approach – This research uses a concurrent nested mixed methods strategy – gaining the majority of the data from a cross-sectional, survey-based, self-report strategy and supporting these findings with qualitative data.

Findings – The findings suggest that the quality of employee enablers did affect the quality of outputs and these conditions were ideal for achieving high quality service delivery. Employees experienced some level of dissatisfaction with communication frequency, mode, content and bi-direction and this significantly contributed to their experiencing some level of ambiguity in relation to customers, ethical issues and their supervisors.

Research limitations/implications – The sample is limited to local government employees that provided front-line service to the public located within one state of Australia. Moreover, common methods bias is often cited as a problem of data obtained from self-report surveys.

Practical implications – The implementation of NPM aimed to embed private sector practices within a public sector context so as to make the organisations more customer-focused – however, the findings appear to be contrary to this aim.

Originality/value – The findings from this study provide another piece of evidence about the impact of recent reforms on the effectiveness of Australia’s local government in providing the employee enablers to meet the needs of customers. As such, it provides a building-block for further studies to review the impact of changes resulting from the implementation of NPM.