Strategic Public Management

… a core concept in Implementation and Delivery and Atlas107

Concept description

Strategic public management is a term used by both Mark Moore and Herman Leonard (references below) to describe the task of public officials in taking account of an organization’s capacity and its political support to determine ways to enhance public value.

Both authors use a three-circle depiction of the task:

  • Leonard describes the challenge in terms of increasing the overlap among the circles on the Venn diagram
  • Moore describes the circles as dynamic constituent elements of a Public Value Scorecard.
Leonard’s Venn diagram

Leonard writes:

“Thus, the analytical framework becomes a guide to inquiry in a dynamic setting. The  challenge is not simply to understand where a given program may be in the strategic domain – but, through a guided thought process taking account of where it is, to determine a set of actions and interventions that will reliably improve the strategic setting of the program. [The Venn diagram] should not be thought of as a permanent description – rather, it is one frame in a moving picture. The challenge is, by understanding enough about where we are today, to design actions that will make the picture that appears tomorrow, or next month, or next year, a better one. The set of actions designed to create these improvements is the strategy – a coordinated series of actions – derived from the strategic analysis carried out through applying the analytical framework as a starting point in the analysis.

“Thus, the interpretation of the strategic or entrepreneurial public official’s role and task is to act so as to produce greater overlap between value, capacity, and support. Capacity and support can be deliberately moved, and the strategy should include actions and interventions that are designed to move capacity and support in the direction where the public official believes that additional public value can be produced. The location of public value, by contrast, cannot deliberately be moved – it may move, of its own accord, over time (as new opportunities or problems arise), at any given moment it simply is where it is. The challenge is that we must find it – because no one knows precisely and with assurance exactly where it is. At any given moment, the public official has only his or her own (validly based, we hope) best judgment about where it is located. The strategy should, therefore, include actions that will allow greater clarity and reliability in the determination of where public value can be created. Thus, the objective in developing a coherent strategy, based on our current analysis of the location of value, capacity, and support, is to combine actions that will result in:

(a) moving capacity(/ies) toward the public official’s current validly-based best estimate of where public value lies;

(b) moving support toward the current best estimate of where public value lies; and

(c) improving the accuracy and reliability of the estimate of where public value lies, allowing for any changes that may take place in its actual location (as needs, wants, problems and opportunities arise and/or change).

“Under the framework presented here, we might describe these as the three central strategic responsibilities of the public official.” (p. 7-8)


Moore’s Public Value Scorecard

Moore writes:

Creating Public Value explicitly sought to bring the idea that a value-creating strategy for a public organization had to be as focused on the external environment of the organization as those developed in the private sector. It assumed that public managers, like their private-sector counterparts, faced a basic leadership task of imagining high-value uses of the assets that had been entrusted to them. To do so, public managers also had to look outward from their organization toward the environment that was telling them what was valuable and possible to do, providing them with resources, and posing operational challenges. The book urged public managers to look upward toward the political authorizing environment that both provided resources and judged the value of what they were producing and outward toward the task environment where their efforts to produce public value would find success or failure.” (p. 6)

“… [Recognizing Public Value] urges public managers to embrace a wide set of measures to articulate and execute a forward-looking strategy for value creation. This framework, which I will call the “public value scorecard,” translates an abstract idea of public value creation into a concrete set of performance measures that can both monitor value creation in the past and guide managerial action necessary to sustain or create greater value in the future. On the political side this work typically focuses on monitoring the political environment, imagining how developments there might transform the public value account, and taking actions to keep the enterprise highly responsive to public aspirations. On the operational capacity side this work typically focuses on searching for productivity gains that can be made through experiments, innovations, and investments in operational procedures, on the one hand, or reallocations of resources among units producing different outputs, products, and services.” (p. 110)

See also:

Public Value

Moore’s Strategic Triangle

Public Value Account


Herman B Leonard (2002), A Short Note on Public Sector Strategy-Building, Harvard University, uploaded to the Atlas on 28 December 2015 at from at, accessed 7 June 2015.

Mark H. Moore (2013), Recognizing Public Value, Harvard University Press.

Atlas topic and subject

Strategic Management in the Public Sector (core topic) in Implementation and Delivery and Atlas107

Page created by: Ian Clark, last modified on 12 September 2017.

Image: Shayne Kavanagh (2014), Defining and Creating Value for the Public, Government Finance Review, October, pp. 57-60, at, accessed 12 September 2017.