Opinion Paper

Operationalising performance management in local government: The use of the balanced scorecard

Zwelinzima J. Ndevu, Kobus Muller
SA Journal of Human Resource Management | Vol 16 | a977 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajhrm.v16i0.977 | © 2018 Zwelinzima J. Ndevu, Kobus Muller | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 18 July 2017 | Published: 31 May 2018

About the author(s)

Zwelinzima J. Ndevu, School of Public Leadership, Stellenbosch University, South Africa
Kobus Muller, School of Public Leadership, Stellenbosch University, South Africa


Orientation: Local government forms that part of the public sector closest to citizens and therefore indispensable in its role of providing essential goods and services and developing the local area. Local government has the authority and functions necessary to provide services for the maintenance and promotion of the well-being of all people within their area and should provide access to basic services such as water, electricity and health care.

Research purpose: This study examines performance management as a tool in local government effective provision service delivery. The critical question addressed in this paper was how the balanced scorecard (BSC) can be used to improve performance in the context of local government and assist in eradicating the current challenges of lack of quality services, poverty and infrastructure development.

Motivation for the study: The need for continuous improvement in service delivery at local government compounded by high levels of service delivery protest requires regular review of performance management system.

Research approach: To understand the current context and challenges facing local government, the applicable legislative framework including the Constitution, white paper and the National Development Plans were perused to better understand the legal environment in which local government operates. A literature review was undertaken to evaluate theory on organisational effectiveness. Semi-structured interviews were used to solicit expert opinions.

Main findings/managerial implications: The BSC approach emerged as the preferred tool because the method offered the authors the opportunity to review non-financial and financial factors to arrive at a balanced conclusion. A BSC tool was developed and applied to the Joe Gqabi District Municipality as a case study.

Practical implications: The BSC as a performance management tool enables organisations to clarify their vision and strategy and translate them into goal or actions.

Contribution/value-add: The research findings conclude that there was acknowledgement of the importance of performance measurement instruments in the municipality, yet the municipality still experienced challenges caused by the performance review process not being transparent and not communicated to all stakeholders.


balanced scorecard; performance management; local government; service delivery


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