Performance management and goal ambiguity: Managerial implications in a single payer system

Stefano Calciolari, Elena Cantu', Giovanni Fattore

Risultato della ricerca: Contributo in rivistaArticolo in rivista

19 Citazioni (Scopus)


Goal ambiguity influences the effectiveness of performance management systems to drive organizations toward enhanced results. The literature analyzes the antecedents of goal ambiguity and shows the influence of goal ambiguity on the performance of U.S. federal agencies. However, no study has analyzed goal ambiguity in other countries or in healthcare systems. This study has three aims: to test the validity of a measurement instrument for goal ambiguity, to investigate its main antecedents, and to explore the relationship between goal ambiguity and organizational performance in a large, public, Beveridge-type healthcare system. To this end, a nationwide survey of general managers of the Italian national health system was performed. A factor analysis was used to validate the mono-dimensionality of an instrument that measured goal ambiguity. Structural equation modeling was used to test both the antecedents and the influence of goal ambiguity on organizational performance. Data from 135 healthcare organizations (53% response rate) were available for analysis. The results confirm the mono-dimensionality of the instrument, the existence of two environmental sources of ambiguity (political endorsement and governance commitment), and the negative relationship between goal ambiguity and organizational performance. This paper shows that goal ambiguity matters, as it may hamper organizational performance. Therefore, performance should be fostered by reducing goal ambiguity (e.g., the goal setting model, funding arrangements, and political support). Mutatis mutandis, our results may apply to public healthcare systems of other countries or other “public interest” sectors, such as social care and education.
Lingua originaleEnglish
pagine (da-a)164-174
Numero di pagine11
RivistaHealth Care Management Review
Stato di pubblicazionePubblicato - 2011


  • Ambiguità obiettivi
  • Italy
  • Misurazione performance
  • goal ambiguity
  • health-care
  • performance management
  • sanità


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