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Public Performance Management and Digital Transformation

Digital transformation poses new challenges for our society. Not only is it essential for private businesses to make use of digitalization options, it is also for public administrations, since the population expects the same services from both. Various hurdles make it difficult to switch to a "digital administration". On the one hand, such projects often face resistance regarding costs because they are initially associated with high investments, while the benefits achieved and any cost savings are only visible at a later stage. On the other hand, the coexistence of analogue and digital services poses a challenge to public administrations - after all, no one should be excluded from state services if they are unable to contact the administration digitally.




The structural conditions needed to develop a digital administration in Switzerland are extremely demanding. Around 2,400 municipalities, 26 cantons and the Confederation must coordinate their digital developments and take into account all four national languages. The center for Public Performance Management and Digital Transformation focuses on the following subject Areas:

  • Technology acceptance
  • Evaluation Research
  • Usabililty testing
  • Strategy development




Subject Areas and Reference Projects

A Comparison of Administrative Compensation in Communes

At the suggestion of the Association of Communal Presidents of the District of Winterthur, the Institute of Public Management investigated the levels of compensation paid to members of the communal executive. An online survey was conducted among approx. 190 members of the executive from 36 Zurich cities and communes to determine what features of activities or of the city/commune have an influence on the levels of compensation paid. The findings of this survey aim to enable participating cities and communes to compare the compensation paid to city and communal counsels and thus provide a guideline for setting appropriate compensation levels.

The results varied considerably both with regard to compensation levels and with regard to the outlay required for administrators to be able to operate effectively. Statistical methods were used to determine the connections between the total amount of compensation paid to an administrator and his or her function and workload in terms of time spent exercising his or her duties, and the size of the city or commune. The resulting calculations yielded benchmarks for possible adjustments in compensation.

Contact: Martina Flick

The Challenges of Meeting State Responsibilities in a Diverse Customer Environment

Project Partners: Competence Center for Integration, Equal Opportunities, and Projects of the Canton of St. Gallen

Over the past few years, elements of reform from the public management sector were frequently introduced which can have a considerable effect on public performance. According to the principles of public management, public authorities are required to perform their responsibilities as efficiently and effectively and with as much customer orientation as possible. On the other hand, in scientific circles the customer concept in the context of public management is often treated with some vagueness.

In fact, the relevant literature largely ignores the fact that employees in public administrations are today faced with a customer structure of increasing diversity. The proportion of the foreign population, for instance, is one aspect of this diversity. Together with Luxemburg and Liechtenstein, Switzerland has among the highest proportions of foreigners of any European country. The lack of interest found in the literature in such developments, and in the diversity of the customer structure of public administrations linked to them, is surprising. After all, based on what is being reported by those working in public administrations, it must be assumed that the effect that many public services (and the way that they are delivered) have on the different customer groups varies considerably. In some cases, there may actually be little or no effect at all. As a result, the underlying aims of these public services may be achieved only in part, or not at all. In view of the principle of equal treatment guaranteed by the Swiss Constitution (Art. 8 Federal Constitution), this is cause for concern. A research project has therefore been initiated to investigate the challenges which public administrations are faced with in exercising their duties and providing their services while dealing with a diverse customer structure, and what factors affect their dealings with diverse customer groups.

Contact: Martina Flick

Benchmarking in Schools

Like most areas of public responsibility, the educational sector is under great pressure to implement quality improvement measures without incurring additional costs. In order to achieve this balancing act, the available funds have to be utilized efficiently and effectively, which requires a great deal of knowledge of control mechanisms. In addition, schools and cantonal bodies are increasingly called upon to account for their situation and for measures adopted to improve it. The project "Benchmarking in Schools, Lower Secondary Level II" addresses this issue. It aims to provide management information that can be used in a systematic, long-term development of schools.


There are two priorities:

/ Supporting schools in their quality development

/ Promoting the transparency and accountability of schools and cantons

The initiator and contracting authority of this project is the Swiss Conference of Cantonal Ministers of Education of Northwestern Switzerland (NW EDK).  From 2014, the project will be reassigned to the Institute of External School Evaluation (IFES). For general information about this project, click hier.

Security Surveys in Cities and Communes

Public safety is one of the fundamental needs of humanity and forms an essential criterion of the quality of life in cities and communes. In order to be able to assess the issue of security in a community, it is not enough to review the local crime figures: Just as important is the subjective sense of security experienced by inhabitants. Tried-and-tested questionnaires are sent to a sample of the population to enable us to collect data on the sense of security as perceived by inhabitants. The evaluations of these data yield clear interpretations and frequency distributions as well as in-depth analysis such as comparisons of the security perception among different age groups, according to gender, or in different districts. In addition, we also offer comparison studies of different cities/communes.

Contact: Alexander Mertes

For other projects, please click here.