Pragmatism and Performance Measurement: An Exploration of Practices in Texas State Government
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The fabled politics-administration dichotomy has largely been discredited as a guiding force in the field of public administration. The dichotomy lives on in the minds of many because nothing has emerged to take its place. Recent scholarship, however, has advanced the notion that the philosophy of American pragmatism could become such a force; some public administration scholars point to a so-called “implied pragmatism" as evidence. Implied pragmatism is the presence of pragmatic principles within the practice of public administration, even if not acknowledged as such. The present research explores this phenomenon within the state of Texas performance measurement system. This study reports the results of a survey that was distributed to all Texas state agencies and a subsequent focus group. Scant evidence of pragmatic principles was found within the dynamics of performance measure development. However, considerable evidence of pragmatism was found regarding the use and usefulness of performance measurement data. It was also found that small state agencies showed less evidence of pragmatic principles than did larger agencies.