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Adopting “Results-based management policy innovation : a tool for strategy planning and execution” : a case study of the United Nations human settlements programme

Olupot, Geoffrey (2016-12)

Thesis (PhD)--Stellenbosch University, 2016.


AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING : Geen opsomming beskikbaar.

ENGLISH SUMMARY : Transfer and adoption of western management concepts, structures and instruments often face cultural barriers and problems of misfit in developing countries. This study sought to establish the parameters and pre-conditions for results-based management (RBM) policy and management innovation transfer, taking UN-Habitat, the United Nations agency that has been mandated by the UN General Assembly to promote socially and environmentally sustainable towns and cities to provide adequate shelter for all, as a case study. The study utilized a cross-sectional design. The main field site was the coordinating programme office at the headquarters of UN-Habitat in Nairobi. Each of the three regional offices, including the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) country office located in Nairobi, was visited, however. The respondents were persons who had experience working with UN-Habitat while the key informants were those persons who had been key players in the design and implementation of the programme. The study found that UN-Habitat is a highly complex, dynamic and image-conscious organization. It appears to have many established habits, but at the same time is able to continually reflect, self-assess, and align itself with the external environment. UN-Habitat had many opportunities that were conducive to the successful transfer and adoption of the outlined RBM technology (Figure 2.3). These were the existence of in-house RBM expertise, UN-Habitat‘s Self-Assessment and Self-Aligning Management Practices, the existence of good communication channels and competent Programme Officers. The RBM policy innovation transfer process at UN-Habitat had been incremental, and was partially successful, but remained largely incomplete. Some critical components, like systematic monitoring systems, had not been adequately transferred, while others, like results-oriented budgeting, were still in the early stages of the transfer process. Although RBM was appreciated by all at UN-Habitat, there were organizational cultures that hindered the acceptance of RBM. These cultures concerned governance, the reward system, and internal capacity, which may be summarized as staff not trusting management, which results in failure to speak out and also management‘s failure to read between the lines concerning why the staff close up. The study revealed that the transfer of RBM policy innovation faced several barriers related to a lack of compatibility and congruence with the organization-wide systems and interests of individual programme officers. From the findings, the study concludes that RBM policy innovation transfer comprises a continuous and conscious effort to systematically improve programme efficiency and effectiveness that will have no end. Technology designs and end user considerations should feature in discussions between developers and users before the commencement of the transfer process. The depth of RBM policy innovation transfer at UN-Habitat concerns the extent to which management is willing to go into the organizational culture to solve transfer problems. Change that occurs at the formal level rarely penetrates deep inside the organization in such a way that would improve effectiveness or performance capacity. Findings of this study indicated that UN-Habitat had made multiple corrective changes in an effort to align the organizational culture with the mission. It is recommended that, for successful RBM policy innovation transfer to occur, UN-Habitat has to stop being oversensitive to criticism. Successful transfer in an organization should thus not be characterized by fear. RBM is about learning and adaptive management (Figure 2.3). Sustained commitment by top management is required and strong leadership is necessary. Management should adopt a results framework that distinguishes more clearly between strategic planning and strategic execution. RBM policy innovation has to be appreciated by both donors and recipients as a tool to help organizations succeed through learning and adopting programming accordingly, as opposed to being an accountability “policing and control” tool.

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