Uganda has witnessed persistent poor employee performance in public organizations since mid 60s, which scholars attribute to the 1966/67 crisis and the political turmoil of the early 70s up to mid 80s. Despite government‟s effort to avert the crisis by introducing reforms to improve employee performance, the situation has not improved. The study‟s main objective was to investigate whether there is a relationship between performance management practices (decision rights, incentives, performance contracts, organization resources and performance measurement) and employee performance in public organizations in Uganda. The study was conducted at Kampala City Council and the Ministry of Education and Sports. Data was collected from a stratified random sample of 517 participants and from a purposively selected sample of 32 respondents. A 5- point Likert scale questionnaire and three interview guides were used to collect data. The Principal component analysis was used to establish the number of major components which accounted for most of the variance within the performance management practices, government policy and employee performance. The Mann-Whitney test was used to establish the mean difference between the two organizations. Pearson chi-square test was used to establish the relationship between the performance management practices and employee performance. Log-Linear analysis was used to establish the interactive effect among the performance management practices, government policy and employee performance. Qualitative data was analyzed using pragmatic content analysis. The results of the study revealed that the selected performance management practices explained 54% of employee performance while 46% was explained by other factors. Findings also indicated that the Ministry of Education and Sports had better performance management practices than Kampala City Council. The study findings also established that performance management practices had a significant positive relationship with employee performance apart from incentives that had an inverse relationship with employee performance. Findings also revealed that there was a 3-way order interactive effect among performance management practices. Performance measurement, government policy and employee performance had the most critical interaction effect. On the basis of the findings, it was recommended that public organization managers and policy makers must ensure that the performance measurement tool used in public organizations is modernized to spell out what it really intends to measure. Measurement should be a continuous process with immediate feedback given to employees. The performance gaps must be addressed in line with government policy. Secondly, public sector managers must ensure that the incentive systems in place are modernized by making them more attractive so as to induce employees to perform optimally. Managers must exercise procedural and distributive justice in the administration of the rewards. They should also ensure that decisions are decentralized to allow full employee participation in the decision making processes. Lastly public sector managers must see to it that organization resources acquisition and development are available and accessed by all their employees.
CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCTION
Background to the study
At independence in 1962, the Uganda government inherited a Public Service that had recruited public servants through open competition regardless of class, ethnicity, race, sex or religion (Apuki, 2007; DFIDEA-U, 2001). Promotion was purely on merit and performance was determined through confidential annual reports on all public servants (Langseth, & Mugaju, 1996). The Public Service was small but efficient, motivated, well-paid with fully equipped offices (Apuki, 2007). Due to the political turmoil and economic decline that prevailed during the 1970s however, the Public Service deteriorated sharply and these principles were rapidly eroded. A number of factors were responsible. These factors included inter-alia rapid africanization of the service, creation of amorphous structures, administrative inexperience, political interference and sectarianism (Apuki, 2007; Yahaya, 1999; Langseth, & Mugaju, 1996).
Even before the political upheavals of the 1970s, the seeds of inefficiency and poor performance had taken root. The problems in the Public Service were linked to the political crisis that strangled the country in 1966/67 when the semi Federal Constitution was abrogated and powers that had been delegated to the Public Service Commission (PSC) and the Local Government were centralized (Apuki, 2007; Mitala). This marked the beginning of the collapse of the viable
institutions in delivering services, supervising ethical procedures and spreading
development (Apuki, 2007). In order to overcome this stagnation in the delivery of services by Public Organizations, the Public Sector came up with reforms or a new approach to the management of performance also known as New Public Management (NPM) (Mitala, 2006). However, the above concerns have not been achieved by the Ugandan public sector (Apuki, 2007; Mitala, 2006).