Jarmo  Vakkuri Author of Evaluating Organization Development

Jarmo Vakkuri

University of Tampere, Faculty of Management

Jarmo Vakkuri is Professor at the Faculty of Management, University of Tampere, and the director of the research group on Public Financial Management. His research interests include e.g. performance management in public administration, hybrid forms of governance, and urban policy-making. Vakkuri is the director of the project "Performance measurement for hybrid governance", and one of the directors of the "BeMInE" project on sustainable urban policy-making, both funded by the Academy of Finland.


One of my long-standing intellectual interests has been to understand what happens when different forms of economic rationalism are applied in different settings of human behavior, institutional environments and political systems. Already in my bachelor and master’s studies I was eager to combine different aspects of society and institutions. In my research career, I have addressed several related topics, for instance dysfunctions of performance measurement systems, economic rationales of public sector reforms, limitations of scale economies in urban development and the institutionalization of market reforms in political systems.

Perhaps this overall interest comes down to trying to understand life “as it is”: ambiguous, limited, and messy. As academics, one of our key roles is naturally to create models and structures to understand such messiness, to make sense of it. Of course, for many there is no messiness. Only the ways of understanding the world are insufficient. However, to me it seems to be the case that we sometimes forget our limited roles as interpreters of what is going on in our surroundings. This probably applies to both scientific theories as well as theories-in-practice that both frame the activities and mechanisms of public administration, society and markets.

From this perspective, it is no wonder that I have been engaged with research projects, such as “Public sector efficiency as an ambiguous problem” where the adoption and implementation of economic rationalisms were analyzed in the contexts of social and health care and higher education. This was a research project that was significantly influenced by my research visit at Stanford University where such an intellectual tradition is extremely rich.

Our book “Governing Hybrid Organizations” with Jan-Erik Johanson constitutes a fascinating extension. We have done what we have called academic wondering in trying to explore expanding but highly ambiguous terrain of hybridity between government action and business endeavors. The traditional lines of demarcation between public organizations and business enterprises are not at all clear. We both have also maintained the position that it makes only little sense to commit yourself to one universal notion of rationality to understand institutional action. In the book, we were interested in seeing organizational life through the lens of multiple rationalities. The process of writing the book has made us even more aware of the importance of the lens of multiple rationalities in the context of hybrid organizing.

It is our pleasure to continue this line of research efforts. We have just started a large research project “Performance measurement for hybrid governance” (funded by the Academy of Finland) where we focus on several aspects of hybridity, hybrid governance, hybrid organizations, and performance measurement. I personally work as a project director. Do not hesitate to be in contact with us concerning these interesting themes of modern institutional diversity.


    Ph.D., Public administration, University of Tampere, 1998
    Adjunct professor, University of Tampere, 2006
    Visiting scholar, Stanford University, 1999-2000

Areas of Research / Professional Expertise

    Performance measurement and management, Public administration, Public financial management, Decision-making, Hybrid organizations and governance, Urban policy-making, Institutional change

Personal Interests

    Literature, Music, Running



Featured Title
 Featured Title - Governing Hybrid Organisations: Vakkuri and Johanson - 1st Edition book cover


Public Money & Management

Special issue on Performance measurement of hybrid organizations

Published: Jul 10, 2017 by Public Money & Management
Authors: Grossi G., Reichard C., Thomasson A. & Vakkuri, J.
Subjects: Business, Management and Accounting, Research Methods

This Public Money & Management (PMM) theme deals with hybrid organizations from a specific perspective. Our PMM theme presents a set of research papers, new development and debate articles to shed light on the performance measurement and management of hybrid organizations. Our aim is to link the research traditions of hybrid organizations and performance management more closely.

International Journal of Public Sector Performance Management

Interpretive schemes in performance management

Published: Aug 04, 2013 by International Journal of Public Sector Performance Management
Authors: Jarmo Vakkuri
Subjects: Business, Management and Accounting

This paper examines the ‘doing’ question of public sector performance by studying public organisations and managers as carriers of interpretive schemes on performance improvements and the effects of such schemes on actual managerial practices of the public sector. Measurementsolutions and heuristics generate new unanticipated organisational action. They also have important effects and implications on public sector performance.

Public Administration

A Lever for Improvement or a Magnet for Blame?

Published: Feb 11, 2013 by Public Administration
Authors: Dixon R., Arndt C., Mullers M., Vakkuri J., Engblom-Pelkkala K. & Hood C.
Subjects: Education, Business, Management and Accounting

Educational performance rankings elicit extensive press coverage and varied political responses. To investigate how the negativity of press coverage was related to the rankings results and political response, we compared the domestic press coverage of two educational rankings (the 2006 editions of the OECD's Progress in Student Achievement (PISA) and the IEA's Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS)) in four European countries (Germany, Finland, France, and Britain).

Public Administration

Struggling with Ambiguity – Public Managers as Users of NPM-Oriented Management

Published: Dec 05, 2010 by Public Administration
Authors: Jarmo Vakkuri
Subjects: Business, Management and Accounting, Health and Social Care

This study examines public managers as users of management instruments in attempts to improve the performance of public services. The article explores uses of three instruments in Finnish local government by using the conceptual framework of ambiguity. The article demonstrates why and how the use of management instruments does not always simplify the public management exercise. It may become even more ambiguous.

Public Management Review

Distinctive research patterns on public sector performance measurement

Published: Sep 26, 2008 by Public Management Review
Authors: Van Helden, J.G., Johnsen, Å. & Vakkuri, J.
Subjects: Business, Management and Accounting, Research Methods

This article explores distinctive research patterns of public administration and accounting disciplines concerning public sector performance measurement (PSPM). We argue that PSPM research could benefit from interdisciplinary efforts and intensified mutual communication between public administration and accounting.