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Performance Management in the Third Sector: A Literature-Based Analysis of Terms and Definitions

Author: LENA MARIA WOERRLEIN and BARBARA SCHECK
Published in PAQ, Vol. 40 No. 2

This paper contributes to the rather young field of research on performance management in the third sector, by providing a unique overview of current terms and definitions used in both research and professional practice. In current performance management literature, no attention is given to the fact that key terms are used inconsistently and even somewhat contradictorily. We follow the assumption that ambiguous terminology prevents further development of the topic and hampers both practitioners and academics. Therefore, we stress the importance of standardized definitions and terminology as well as present an approach to address the issue of how performance management should be understood in the third sector. The chosen concept is the one promoted by the Development Assistance Committee of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD/DAC). This concept is applied for two reasons: first, the OECD/DAC already has endeavored to unify terms and definitions in the field of development cooperation since its foundation in the 1960s; second, these terms and definitions are already widely used due to its large membership base. By adopting the OECD/DAC approach, this paper aims at a more unified use of third sector performance concepts in both research and practice.

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