Åge Johnsen

Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences
Department of Public Administration and Leadership

P.O. Box 4 St Olavs plass
NO-0130 Oslo
aage.johnsen@hioa.no |  Visit Personal Website

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Åge Johnsen is Professor of Public Policy. His research interests are strategic management, performance management and evaluation in the public sector. Central topics in his research are strategic thinking and strategic planning and management in the public sector; the design, implementation, use and assessment of performance measurement and management by objective systems in the public sector; performance audit and contracting out municipal auditing; and use of evaluation in government.

Johnsen, Åge (2012). "Why does poor performance get so much attention in public policy?" Financial Accountability and Management, 28 (2): 121–142.
Abstract: This article explores why information on poor performance often gets most of the attention in public policy. In order to illustrate the discussion this paper analyses the case of educational policy for secondary schools in Norway, and in particular the policy of participating in the OECD Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) which measures educational outcomes for 15-year old pupils regarding reading, mathematics and science. Governments, researchers, interest groups and the media await the regular release of the PISA results every third year with great interest, and participate in the strategy of ‘naming and blaming’ based on the relative national performances. The practice of identifying poor performance and the subsequent public discourses has become an institution. Despite the negativity-bias the strategic use of information associated with these processes may have positive impacts on decision making, policy innovation and democratic accountability.
DOI: DOI: 10.1111/j.1468-0408.2012.00539.x
Johnsen, Åge (2015). "Strategic management thinking and practice in the public sector: A strategic planning for all seasons?" Financial Accountability and Management, 31 (3): 243–268.
Abstract: This paper explores how strategic management thinking manifests itself in strategic management practice in the public sector. Mintzberg's framework of ten strategic management schools of thought is chosen for mapping strategic management thinking. The paper analyses a convenience sample of 35 strategic management processes, observation of an agency's strategy reformulation process and interviews of managers in the public sector in Norway for informing the discussion. Strategic planning is heavily criticised in some of the business strategy literature. The analysis indicates that strategic management in the public sector extensively uses strategic planning, bundled with certain other schools of thought, despite tendencies to downplay formal, mechanistic planning in contemporary strategic management theory.
DOI: DOI: 10.1111/faam.12056
Johnsen, Åge (2016): Strategic planning and management in local government in Norway: Status after three decades. Scandinavian Political Studies.
Abstract: Strategic planning and management was introduced in the public sector more than three deca- des ago and has become a core component in many new public management reforms. Although strategy has been widely adopted in the public sector, the knowledge base regarding its practices and its impacts remains scarce, particularly outside Anglo-American countries. This article replicates an American and British survey by analysing the adoption and impacts of strategic planning and management in Norwegian municipalities. The results show that, in 2012, a majority of the Norwegian municipalities used strategic planning and management, and that the respondents viewed the impact positively overall. Municipalities that had chosen the strategic stance of prospector and had financial resources from positive net operating results margin adopted strategic planning and management more than other municipalities. Municipalities with a high degree of strategic management and high stakeholder involvement had better perceived impacts of strategic planning than other municipalities.
DOI: Doi: 10.1111/1467-9477.12077
Reichborn-Kjennerud, Kristin and Åge Johnsen (2015). Performance audit and Supreme Audit Institutions’ impact on public administration: The case of the Office of the Auditor General in Norway. Administration & Society.
Abstract: Performance audit is widespread but contested. The “audit society” proposition holds that audits are rituals producing comfort, whereas the “mandatory audit” proposition in public policy presumes that audits have positive impacts. Common to both propositions is the lack of empirical evidence of audit impact. This article analyzes survey data of the auditees’ tendency to make changes as a consequence of Supreme Audit Institutions’ performance audits. Civil servants who had experienced performance audits responded that ministries and agencies tend to make changes, but instrumental, institutional, and political factors have an effect on the institution’s propensity to make changes.
DOI: doi: 10.1177/0095399715623315

Substantive Focus:
Education Policy
Governance PRIMARY
Defense and Security SECONDARY

Theoretical Focus:
Agenda-Setting, Adoption, and Implementation SECONDARY
Policy Analysis and Evaluation PRIMARY