Project Details


The roots of Public Management Research (PUMAR) at Lund University School of Economics and Management can at least be dated back to the 1960s and 1970s. In the early years the research was quite fragmented and connected to individual researchers. However the research volume expanded in the 1980ies.

In 1984 KEFU, a research unit for local government research was founded by the university and the local government in south of Sweden. Since then PUMAR research has covered a wide range of research topics. Privatization, competition, DRG-pricing, cost management and management control techniques inspired by private companies are examples of research areas of early interest. In the beginning the target group for the researcher was mainly the local government politicians and officers in Sweden. This target group is still important but since the end of 1990ies the research has also been more and more directed to the international research community.

Local government (Regions/County Councils and Municipals) is PUMAR's main empirical focus, but with a growing interest in the governance and management of central government.

The research is funded through various research funders and is usually conducted in projects with one or more of the network's researchers.

Current Research Areas

The research covers a wide range of issues related to public sector reform:


The research covers several aspects of competition and market solutions. One stream of studies deals with the use of markets as an internal governance structure with purchasers and providers within a public organization. Another stream of studies explores the role of external (private) suppliers and their interaction with public-sector bodies. The use of competitive tendering and contracting are important arrangement in procuring goods and services from the private sector. In recent years, competitive arrangements building on customer choice and vouchers have become increasingly important.  The research uses a variety of approaches from business, strategic management, and economics.

Novel digital technologies have a wide range of applications of relevance for the public sector, including forecasting of demand, self-service apps, automated monitoring systems, and distance-based contact pathways. From a public management research perspective, interesting aspects of digitalization include issues related to the decisions to adopt new technology and challenges associated with implementation, as well as consequences for the demand for and efficiency of public services.

Financial accounting and auditing
Sweden was one of the pioneer countries to introduce accrual accounting, first on a voluntary basis (1980s) then mandatory (1998). With the aim to improve efficiency, accountability, and transparency the relevance of study the impact of the use of financial reports and accounting information is vital, especially when the accounting information becomes part of the benchmarking and resource allocation at different levels. With accrual accounting there will always be a wider scope for arbitrary judgement, that is,accounting choices according to the interests of different parties.

To secure good governance is a prerequisite for securing accountability and transparency in public sector organisations. Within the scope of this topic, we look closer at the relationship between politicians and the services they are responsible for. This includes services provided by external providers as well as municipally owned corporations. Issues addressed within this topic is for example how politicians govern public service provision to ensure that services are delivered in accordance with current regulations and to a quality that can be expected. Other issues addressed is how to secure performance in relation to overall goals and strategies of the public organisations.

Contemporary public sector challenges include increasing demand for services, resource and staff shortages and rapid technological development including digital solutions. To address challenges, innovations are needed in the way services are provided, e.g. taking advantage of new digital opportunities. Development of new ways of delivering services implies a journey into unknown territory and requires learning and handling of goal ambiguity. We study how to support innovation and the complex changes needed in delivery of services through adapted forms of governance and management.

Payment and incentives
Payment principles are central components of the incentive structure in any public organization. PUMAR researchers have studied several aspects of payment over the years, including provider perspectives on fixed vs. variable payment, the handling of surpluses, budget decentralization and pay for performance (P4P).More recent research focuses on ex post consequences of ex ante risk adjustment of payment.

Performance management
Performance management is the regular collection and feedback of data concerning resources, activities, results and outcomes for an individual, team or organization.Performance measurement can be used for different purposes and can support different forms of control. Use of explicit standards, greater emphasis on output control and accountability towards targets have been described as an essential part of NPM reforms. But performance measurement can also be used for learning purposes and to support innovative change. We study the design and impact of performance management system in different contexts, such as healthcare, local and central government.

Short titlePUMAR
Effective start/end date1984/09/01 → …

UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This project contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities
  • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • SDG 12 - Responsible Consumption and Production
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions