Governmentality and performance for the smart city

Daniela Argento, Giuseppe Grossi*, Aki Jääskeläinen, Stefania Servalli, Petri Suomala

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

    41 Citations (Scopus)


    Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to explore the role of performance measurement systems as technologies of government in the operationalisation of smart city programmes. It answers the research question: how do the development and use of performance measurement systems support smart cities in the achievement of their goals? Design/methodology/approach: This paper presents a longitudinal case study that uses an interventionist approach to investigate the possibilities and limitations of the use of performance measurement systems as technologies of government in a smart city. Interpretations are theoretically informed by the Foucauldian governmentality framework (Foucault, 2009) and by public sector performance measurement literature. Findings: The findings address the benefits and criticalities confronting a smart city that introduces new performance measurement systems as a technology of government. Such technologies become problematic tools when the city network is characterised by a fragmentation of inter-departmental processes, and when forms of resistance emerge due to a lack of process owners, horizontal accountability and cooperation among involved parties. Research limitations/implications: This paper is based on a case study of a single smart city, and outlines the need for both comparative and multidisciplinary analyses in order to analyse the causes and effects of smart city challenges. Originality/value: This paper offers a critical understanding of the role of accounting in the smart city. The ineffectiveness of performance measurement systems is related to the multiple roles of such technologies of government, which may lead to a temporary paralysis in the achievement of smart city goals and programmes.

    Original languageEnglish
    JournalAccounting, auditing and accountability journal
    Early online date25 Oct 2019
    Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 25 Oct 2019
    MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


    • Accounting
    • Governmentality
    • Performance measurement
    • Smart city
    • Technology of government


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