Why Elephants Gallop: Assessing and Predicting Organizational Performance in Federal Agencies

Brewer, Gene A.; Selden, Sally Coleman
October 2000
Journal of Public Administration Research & Theory;Oct2000, Vol. 10 Issue 4, p685
Academic Journal
ABSTRACTHal G. Rainey and Paula Steinbauer (1999) recently proposed a theory of effective government organizations.[1] Several other theories exist in whole or in part, but empirical testing is rare. In this article we cut to the chase and examine several key elements of these theories empirically. First, we explore the theoretical dimensions of organizational performance and derive a taxonomy to help measure the construct. Second, we draw from the literature and develop a model predicting organizational performance. Third, we operationalize and test the model with data from the 1996 Merit Principles Survey, U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board. In the end, this model explains 70 percent of the variation in employee perceptions of organizational performance across the twenty-three largest federal agencies. Most hypothesized relationships are confirmed. We conclude the article with a discussion of implications, limitations, and suggestions for future research.


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