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Chan S. Jung

This chapter examines whether the framework suggested and empirically validated with U.S. federal programs in Chapter 8 is valid in different contexts. Two quantitative analyses are conducted in the contexts of South Korean central government agencies and English local government authorities. They commonly demonstrate that goal ambiguity mediates the relationships of management capacity, organizational size, and work complexity with performance. Furthermore, the South Korean case additionally offers evidence supporting the mediated-moderation relationship, in which higher political insulation enhances the negative effect of management capacity on goal ambiguity, which in turn relates negatively to performance. The English case does not validate the moderation effect of political insulation.

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Chan S. Jung

There was at least a thirty-year gap between the beginning of anecdotal and theoretical arguments and the beginning of quantitative research, regarding predictors of goal ambiguity. There could be diverse reasons for such a long time difference. This chapter briefly discusses complications for goal ambiguity research in public organizations. Then it provides a broad and thorough literature review of empirical goal ambiguity studies in public management and policy. The review is systematically divided into public–private comparison, predictors, consequences, and mediation effects of goal ambiguity. Most of the quantitative studies were about organizational goal ambiguity. After the literature review, the need for program goal ambiguity research is discussed, followed by conceptual and methodological issues for the program-level research.

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Chan S. Jung

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Chan S. Jung

In this chapter, the first topic is the nature of performance in public administration, its measurement methods, and the PAPT assessment scores as program performance. This is followed by a discussion of the negative relationship between each of the three goal ambiguity dimensions and performance. Then this chapter additionally discusses and hypothesizes that the goal ambiguity dimensions have varying levels of effect on outcome and process-oriented performance dimensions. The next section tests the discussed relationships with 691 programs in U.S. federal agencies. The summarized finding is that all the three goal ambiguity dimensions are more closely related to the outcome performance than the process-oriented performance in the negative direction, with target ambiguity the most closely related. The final section discusses the theoretical and practical implications of the findings, along with some conceptual and measurement issues.

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Chan S. Jung

As the next step after developing the new concepts of program goal ambiguity and their measures in the preceding chapter, this chapter analyzes six predictors (which are six concepts and ten measures) of program goal ambiguity. The suggested predictors are program management capacity, third-party involvement, learning period, program budget size, organizational work complexity (including the number of programs housed and professional staff proportion), and political insulation structures. This chapter discusses and hypothesizes the relationships between the suggested predictors and program goal ambiguity, on the basis of literature from various disciplines such as political science, public administration, public policy, and organizational sociology. In the regression tests with 691 public programs in the U.S. federal government, except for political insulation structures each predictor has at least a significant relationship with the three goal ambiguity dimensions: target, timeline, and program evaluation. The final section discusses the implications of the empirical findings.

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Performance Goals in Public Management and Policy

The Nature and Implications of Goal Ambiguity

Chan S. Jung

Chan Su Jung provides a thorough review of goal ambiguity in the public sector, exploring the general assertions, arguments and empirical evidence regarding performance goal ambiguity, particularly highlighting its causes, consequences, and mediation effects. The author proposes a new conceptual framework for successful analysis of goal ambiguity that can effectively relate to diverse organizational and program characteristics.
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Chan S. Jung

This chapter provides conceptual explanations about goal and ambiguity separately. Then goal ambiguity in public management is explained in terms of definition, importance, and paradox. Goal ambiguity is defined as the extent to which a set of goals in a public program or an organization allows different interpretations in deciding work related to target, time limit, and external evaluation. Ambiguous goals can have negative effects throughout a program, an organization, and further on citizens and society and on public service performance. However, public managers must face dilemmatic situations between clear goals for (rational) managerial strategy and ambiguous goals for political need (e.g. interventions on the society versus broader political support), which is called the paradox of goal ambiguity. Then this chapter describes the plan of this book.

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Chan S. Jung

The key questions about goal ambiguity and of this book are why goals of public organizations are ambiguous and what effects goal ambiguity has on public organizations and employees. This chapter aims at deepening understanding of these questions. To that end, it broadly and systematically reviews and examines general assertions and conceptual and theoretical arguments in the academic history of political science, public administration, public policy, and economics. The chapter briefly describes the beginning of a theory of goal ambiguity, then the chapter briefly reviews administrative reforms and themes that involved goal clarification. The last section discusses similarities, differences, and relations between empirical goal ambiguity theory and goal-setting theory.

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Chan S. Jung

In this chapter, program goal ambiguity is defined as the extent to which a set of goals in a public program allow different interpretations in deciding work related to target, time limit, and external evaluation, based on goal-setting theory. The three components of performance goals are identified in the PART (Program Assessment Rating Tool) of the U.S. federal government. Then this chapter conceptualizes three dimensions of program goal ambiguity—target ambiguity, timeline ambiguity, and program evaluation ambiguity—and measured their measure from the PART. Lastly, it tests the validity and reliability of the three goal ambiguity measures.

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Chan S. Jung

This concluding chapter presents generalizable propositions supported in this book, as the contribution of the framework to the development of goal ambiguity research: regarding direct relationships with goal ambiguity, moderation effects of organizational structures between management capacity and goal ambiguity, the relationship between goal ambiguity and performance, direct relationships with performance, and mediator roles of goal ambiguity. Thereafter, the chapter discusses diverse issues for goal ambiguity research or empirical goal ambiguity theory: causalities through quantitative, qualitative, and experimental studies; extension of the framework of this book or goal ambiguity research with the help of other theories; measurement issues of goal ambiguity; positive and nonlinear effects of goal ambiguity; and additional theoretical and practical implications.