Convergence Without Diffusion?

A Comparative Analysis of the Choice of Performance Indicators in Tax Administration and Social Security

Published in: International Review of Administrative Sciences, v. 74, no. 4, Dec. 2008, p. 589-614

Posted on on November 30, 2008

by Christian Van Stolk, Kai Wegrich

Read More

Access further information on this document at

This article was published outside of RAND. The full text of the article can be found at the link above.

This article cross-nationally compares the choice of performance indicators in two core fields of state activity, tax administration and social security. Exploring the selection of performance indicators in six countries (Australia, Canada, Netherlands, Sweden, the UK and the US), the article analyses the driving forces for the choice of particular indicators in the context of national administrative traditions and more recent reform agendas on the one hand and the trend towards international exchange and `benchmarking' on the other hand. The article explores the relative significance and interaction of different driving forces of choice and how this shapes the development and application of performance indicators. To that end, it combines instutionalist approaches with the literature on the mechanisms and effects of international exchange and policy diffusion. Our analysis suggests that existing broad similarities are linked to similarities in core activities and values underlying contemporary public service reforms. Variation in the choice of performance indicators (PIs) reflects domestic factors such as governance arrangements through which broad reform trends are filtered. These arrangements also mediate any direct international learning.

Research conducted by

This report is part of the RAND Corporation External publication series. Many RAND studies are published in peer-reviewed scholarly journals, as chapters in commercial books, or as documents published by other organizations.

Our mission to help improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis is enabled through our core values of quality and objectivity and our unwavering commitment to the highest level of integrity and ethical behavior. To help ensure our research and analysis are rigorous, objective, and nonpartisan, we subject our research publications to a robust and exacting quality-assurance process; avoid both the appearance and reality of financial and other conflicts of interest through staff training, project screening, and a policy of mandatory disclosure; and pursue transparency in our research engagements through our commitment to the open publication of our research findings and recommendations, disclosure of the source of funding of published research, and policies to ensure intellectual independence. For more information, visit

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.