Civil service reform and performance management in Ghana and Zambia since 1990

Policy brief State Effectiveness and State

  • Both Zambia and Ghana have tried repeatedly since 1990 to link civil servants’ performance to incentives by introducing performance management systems. Despite these efforts, there have been no cases in either country where individual performance has been successfully and sustainably linked to rewards or sanctions.
  • To understand patterns of individual performance, the researchers argue that performance management should be thought of as a repeated and interdependent cycle of target-setting, assessment, and incentives.
  • The results suggest that even without any incentives, some workers say that the process of setting targets in conjunction with their superiors and then assessing them has been useful – but the promise of incentives, and then failure to deliver them, undermines the usefulness of these aspects of performance management systems.
  • Governments should reconsider their goal of linking significant incentives to performance and focus on enhancing the parts of performance management that stimulate discussion, communication, and culture change.