Marketization and performance measurement in Swedish central government: A comparative institutionalist study

Sven Modell, Fredrika Wiesel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Public sector organizations have increasingly been subject to varying forms of marketization, ranging from competitive contracting to a more general conception of citizens or users as customers or consumers regardless of whether such economic factors prevail. Drawing on neo-institutional sociology (NIS) and other advances in economic sociology, we examine such marketization efforts as an institutionally embedded phenomenon with particular reference to how it is implicated in the performance measurement practices (PMPs) of two state agencies in Sweden. This reveals how PMPs are embedded in only partly consistent institutional logics and under what circumstances such practices can be reconciled. Some PMPs, especially those grounded in efficiency concerns, tend to play an important constitutive role in operating-level practices, partly as a result of also being embedded in regulatory pressures. Other PMPs, imbued with symbolic meanings signifying a more customer-oriented rationale, only seem to approach such a status if they are dis-embedded from the 'global' practices in which they originate and re-embedded in evolving PMPs dominated by efficiency concerns. We discuss the implications of these findings for emerging research into practice variations embedded in competing logics in institutional fields and for policy development. © 2008 The Authors.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)251-283
Number of pages32
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2008


  • Accounting
  • Central government
  • Customer orientation
  • Embeddedness
  • Institutional theory
  • Measurement
  • Performance
  • Public sector
  • Sweden


Dive into the research topics of 'Marketization and performance measurement in Swedish central government: A comparative institutionalist study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this