Targets in Public Policy: Disciplining or Signaling?

Politics, Knowledge & Migration

A new paper I prepared for the PSA conference in Manchester next week explores the functions of targets in UK immigration and asylum policy. It’s part of our ongoing project on the Politics of Monitoring. The paper examines the tensions between two rather different uses of targets: targets as a political device for signaling commitment to certain goals, and as a managerial tool for improving organizational performance. It focuses on the case of targets on immigration and asylum adopted between 2000-2010 as part of the government’s Public Service Agreements (PSA). The paper argues that:

1. The initial process-based PSA targets on asylum largely failed to function as effective political signals – with the result that senior political figures instead created new, more publicly digestible, targets outside of the PSA system.  This seems to reflect a wider problem with attempts to signal performance through technocratic tools of measurement. Especially in…

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