This chapter reviews the experience of Performance Management (PM) in recent decades. We ask how PM in practice compares with the ideal. The chapter starts with a short theoretical and conceptual section applying perspectives from organization theory and discussing the concept of performance. A main argument is that performance management must be seen in a broad framework rather than as a purely technical issue. The chapter discusses under what conditions the PM system works well and when it faces challenges. Variations across structural and institutional factors are examined and challenges related to handling transboundary tasks and wicked issues are discussed as well as challenges regarding research gaps and agendas for further research. The empirical focus is on central government and specifically on Norway.

Overall, PM has experienced both disappointments as well as many solid achievements. It works in some situations and for some tasks and organizations. . Performance management is necessary and useful, but difficult to attain. PM practiced as management by measurement tends to fit only the rather unambiguous context of public administration. An important research agenda is to move away from a managerial approach to PM and toward one that also includes the political aspects of performance management..