The gap between public service theory and service user experience : an exploration of service users understanding of targets in New Zealand emergency departments : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Business Studies in Management at Massey University, Albany, New Zealand

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Massey University
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Demand for better public services, especially within healthcare, has been evident for decades. Practices and approaches from the private sector were posited as a solution to the ongoing failings of the public sector. The adoption of performance management and measurement was one, of many, private sector practices applied to public sector organisations. Targets, one performance management tool are examined. Targets were selected due to the media, academic and political attention they have received. This exploratory research sought to develop an understanding of the effect of targets on public service delivery, specifically from a Service Users perspective. The findings indicate that within the New Zealand healthcare system, Emergency Department Length of Stay targets are not widely known by Service Users. As a consequence there is little impact on Service Users expectations of the service. There are, however, other factors which shape Service Users expectations. The lack of awareness of Emergency Department Length of Stay targets may lend evidence to the difference between citizens and Service Users. It may also support claims that the introduction of private sector practices has compromised the relationship between citizens and government. Areas for further research are identified.
Public service, private sector, performance management, citizen, service user, New Public Management, managerialism, politics, healthcare, emergency departments, targets, measurement