Personnel Constraints in Public Organizations : The Impact of Reward and Punishment on Organizational Performance

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journal

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)121-131
Journal / PublicationPublic Administration Review
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2013


In recent years, many public sector reforms have attempted to loosen personnel constraints on the assumption that more managerial flexibility will increase organizational performance. The authors mount an empirical study to test this assumption using data taken from English local government authorities. Personnel constraints are operationalized using Rainey's long-standing measures of the concept. Statistical results from multiple regression analyses indicate that "difficulty in removing poor managers" is harmful to organizational performance, but "difficulty in rewarding good managers" has no effect. The authors delve inside the organizational hierarchy and find that attitudes toward personnel constraints vary by organizational level and managerial rank: for example, frontline managers feel more constrained overall, while senior managers' perceptions of constraints are more closely linked to organizational performance but in some unexpected ways. The implications of these findings, including the fact that personnel constraints have varying impacts on organizational performance, are considered. © 2012 by The American Society for Public Administration.