Managing autonomous units in the City of Vienna
Research field "Governance of autonomous units and Public Corporate Governance"
Big cities like Vienna accomplish significant parts of their performance with the help of autonomous units which can be distinguished and categorised by their levels of autonomy. Such categories of units comprise semi private establishments within the administration, outsourced corporations under public or private law as well as a plethora of semi public institutions and cooperations. In addition, the City of Vienna establishes and administers its own funds.
Legal framework (e.g. budget management/accounting and employment law) as well as structures of governance differ significantly from the internal city administration. Usually municipality executives are responsible for the governance of these heterogeneous organisations. They have to provide an adequate decentralisation of competences and resources while at the same time ensure the adequate political, financial, legal and performance-related accountability. This requires a yardstick: it necessitates 'hard factors', such as adequate know-how, clearly defined targets and parameters (used to measure quality, efficiency and effectiveness of the service provision and to govern the organisation) as well as 'soft factors' such as shared values and implicit knowledge.
The aim of this project is to explore to what extent the design of each entity (its legal form, its level of autonomy, its governance structure etc) advances or affects the balance between effectiveness, efficiency, quality and the political responsibility to provide services for citizens on a large scale. Based on these findings, potentials for further improvement will be identified. Central questions concern governance and control mechanisms (e.g. financial management, controlling, performance management, auditing or risk management) as well as the organisational design of the autonomous units and their supervisory boards (e.g. with regard to the distribution of powers and responsibilities, the choice of board members, reporting parameters or extent of autonomy). The focus will furthermore lie on the duties and functions of these organisations, their organisational and individual objectives as well as the professional profiles of the stakeholders and their responsibility towards the municipality, both on an administrative but also political level.