Development of domain specific target and indicator systems

Already the political economist and sociologist Max Weber once has pointed out that decision makers need to ensure the rationality of their decisions, by trying to balance out the best relation of means and ends.[1]

Consequently, policy makers need to clarify the targets that they want to reach through certain political programmes and norms. In fact, the executive bodies need quite precise targets, since they are responsible for the adoption and implementation of political and legal solutions and need to translate political solutions in concrete activities. If public administrations want to monitor political targets, they need to set up a management control system, as it is already quite common in the private sector. Nevertheless, since it is not possible to score success from insulated financial ratios (See also Need: Link between impact, quality, performance measurements and financial information), the public sector needs to observe much more complex systems in consideration of public interests.[2]

In a conducted interview with a public administration representative on the regional ministerial level in the youth welfare policy domain, the interviewee confirmed that there is a lack of clearly formulated goals on the political level. The interviewee further mentioned that without clear goals on a political level, executive bodies are incapable to derive operationalised goals and indicators.

A second problem he mentioned is that targets, if they are formulated, should be well balanced among each other, since it is important in the implementation phase to know which targets have priority to set up a strategic planning. For example, it is difficult to implement child day care availability for everybody and best trained childcare workers at the same time.

To sum up, policy domain specific targets and indicator systems are especially relevant in the formulation, and implementation phase, but are also relevant in the monitoring and evaluation phase, since it is impossible to monitor and evaluate political targets and their derived indicators in a performance measurement system without targets.


[1] Weber, M. (1980), Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft: Grundriss der verstehenden Soziologie, Mohr, Tübingen.
[2] Budäus, D., Buchholtz, K. (1997), Konzeptionelle Grundlagen des Controllings in öffentlichen Verwaltungen, Die Betriebswirtschaft, 57(3), 322–337.
Type of content: Needs
Type of need: Strategical need
Assessment matrix
 Agenda SettingPolicy Design and AnalysisPolicy ImplementationPolicy Monitoring and Evaluation
Agriculture, Fisheries, Forestry & Foods
Economy & Finance
Education, Youth, Culture & Sport
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Institutional Questions / Internal Affairs


Domain-related KPIs’ systems should be a top priority! It’s actually unacceptable to design and implement policies and policy-oriented measures without having set domain specific targets, indicators etc.

You are right. Often targets are unclear though which in parts evolves out of the governmental structure of a country. For example in Germany legal provisions are regularly developed on a national level, but need to be implemented on a federal level. In other words: often targets and indicators are too generic, thus creating confusion in the federal states on how to implement the regulations.

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