This paper aims at examining how the issue of ambiguity in performance measurement systems in the public sector has been addressed in international literature. Particularly, the research highlights the variables of ambiguity that the literature reports at an organizational and an individual level, with reference to two perspectives: an objective perspective related to certain characteristics of the performance measurement systems, and a subjective perspective referring to the perceptions of the actors who are the recipients of these objectives.
The authors conducted a systematic literature review in Scopus and ScienceDirect. Of the 1,148 abstracts analyzed, the authors selected 126 articles for full reading and accepted 27 for final discussion.
The research presents the antecedents and the consequences for each ambiguity variable, reporting the factors that enable and inhibit ambiguity in the design and application of performance measurement systems in the public sector. This paper not only analyzes and interprets ambiguity in the public sector, but also summarizes the main indications for future research, contributing to the research in an area that is poorly investigated and that has significant relevance for the effectiveness of performance measurement systems in the public sector.
Keywords: Performance Measurement Systems, Public Sector, Literature review, Ambiguity.