Contribution analysis as an approach to enable public managers to demonstrate public value: The Scottish context

John Connolly

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)
131 Downloads (Pure)


The purpose of this article is twofold. First, the article considers the level of congruence between contribution analysis and public value. Second, based on the Scottish context, the article examines how contribution analysis can be used as a method to support public managers to demonstrate value within partnership contexts in times of acute governance challenges (including in times of austerity).

The empirical underpinning of the article emerges from strands of applied public sector experience and consultancy with national agencies. The author was a public manager (up to 2013) within a national government agency - NHS Health Scotland. The research is also informed by data gathered as an academic consultant in contribution analysis with national partnership-based agencies (Healthcare Improvement Scotland and Education Scotland (2013-present)) through a series of workshops as part of consultancy activity on capacity building in relation to evaluation methodology and practice.

Based on research and experience with three national public sector agencies in Scotland, the article demonstrates how public managers, despite difficult challenges, have adopted contribution analysis and how this has served to facilitate public value.

In a time when public managers are facing acute challenges in demonstrating the impact of their programmes and services due to the dynamics of complex governance systems coupled with the pressure of austerity, this research helps to equip public managers with strategies to enable the demonstration of public value in pragmatic terms.

public value, contribution analysis, outcomes, impact, Scotland
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)690-707
JournalInternational Journal of Public Sector Management
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2016


  • public value
  • contribution analysis
  • outcomes
  • Scotland
  • impact


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