French Budget Act (LOLF) Indicators as Seen Through the Lens of the National Drama Centres: A Case Study

Volume 21 n° 3  —  V2135
ISBN : 1480-8986
Publication year : 2019
Pages : 57-72

French Budget Act (LOLF) Indicators as Seen Through the Lens  of the National Drama Centres: A Case Study

Simon Alcouffe (PhD) is an associate professor of Management Accounting and Control Systems at Toulouse Business School in France. His research interests include the diffusion of accounting innovations, environmental accounting, social entrepreneurship, and the adoption of performance measurement systems within various organizational contexts.

Pascale Amans (PhD) is an assistant professor at Toulouse University’s Laboratoire Gouvernance et Contrôle Organisationnel in France. Her research interests in the field of management accounting and management control include the organizational identity and organizational performance of complex organizations, with an emphasis on the interactions between actors and tools.

Isabelle Assassi (PhD) is a professor of Marketing at Toulouse Business School in France. From 1999 to 2012 she was head of the Management of Cultural and Creative Activities program. She is a board member and former President (1999–2016) of Les Eléments, a leading choir in France. Her research interests are focused on strategic marketing in the performing arts.

Fabienne Oriot(PhD) is a professor and head of the Internal Audit and Management Control master’s program at Toulouse Business School in France. Her research interests include the design and use of performance measurement and management systems within various organizational contexts such as SMEs and nonprofit organizations, the balanced scorecard and tableau de bord, and the management role of controllers and CFOs.

ABSTRACT

This article explores the way in which a government-imposed performance measurement system, the “LOLF indicators,” is perceived by French national drama centres (NDCs) and the performance paradoxes related to its use. The literature suggests that the LOLF indicators are difficult to implement because of the incompatibility of art with management control and because they might be seen as imposed by external stakeholders for accountability purposes. However, the interviewees in this case study of one NDC had no objection to measurement or to management control. The results nevertheless reveal several weaknesses in the LOLF indicators. In terms of performance paradoxes, the results highlight perverse and, to a lesser extent, positive learning processes at work. The causes of these processes are both unintended (elusiveness of policy objectives, contradictory goals) and deliberate (cream skimming and cherry picking). The authors explain how the indicators might evolve to overcome these weaknesses and paradoxes.

KEYWORDS

Theatre, indicators, performance measurement, performance paradox, management control

RÉSUMÉ

Cet article examine, d’une part, la façon dont un système d’évaluation de la performance imposé par le gouvernement, communément appelé les « indicateurs LOLF », est perçu par les centres dramatiques nationaux en France (CDN) et, d’autre part, les paradoxes de performance liés à son utilisation. La littérature suggère qu’il est difficile de mettre en pratique les indicateurs LOLF en raison d’une incompatibilité entre l’art et le contrôle de gestion et parce que les indicateurs peuvent être perçus comme étant imposés par des parties prenantes externes à des fins d’imputabilité. Or, les personnes interviewées dans le cadre de cette étude d’un CDN n’ont exprimé aucune objection à l’évaluation ou au contrôle de gestion. Les résultats révèlent cependant plusieurs lacunes des indicateurs LOLF. En ce qui concerne les paradoxes de performance, les résultats soulignent la présence de processus d’apprentissages pervers et, à un moindre degré, positifs. Les causes de ces processus sont à la fois involontaires (caractère insaisissable des objectifs stratégiques, objectifs contradictoires) et intentionnelles (écrémage et picorage). Les auteurs expliquent comment ces indicateurs pourraient évoluer afin de combler ces lacunes et de remédier à ces paradoxes.

MOTS CLÉS

Théâtre, indicateurs, évaluation de la performance, paradoxe de performance, contrôle de gestion

RESUMEN

En este artículo se explora la percepción que tienen los centros dramáticos nacionales (CDN) franceses de la medida de desempeño impuesta por el gobierno, los “indicadores de la ley orgánica relativa a las leyes de finanzas (LOLF)”, y cuáles son las paradojas de desempeño relacionadas a su uso. La bibliografía sugiere que es difícil aplicar los indicadores LOLF debido a la incompatibilidad del arte con el control de la gestión, y porque se les puede ver como algo impuesto por actores externas con fines de rendición de cuentas. Sin embargo, los entrevistados en este estudio de caso de un CDN no se oponían a la medición, ni al control de gestión. Los resultados revelan no obstante algunas debilidades en los indicadores LOLF y destacan, en cuanto a las paradojas de desempeño, procesos de aprendizaje con efectos en mayor parte prejudiciales, aunque algunos, en menor medida, resultan positivos. Las causas de estos procesos son tanto involuntarias (vaguedad de los objetivos políticos, metas contradictorias) como deliberadas (efecto flor y nata y criba). Los autores explican cómo los indicadores podrían evolucionar para superar estas debilidades y paradojas.

PALABRAS CLAVE

Teatro, indicadores, medida de desempeño, paradoja de desempeño, control de gestión