Target culture is a pejorative term used to refer to the perceived negative effects of rigid adherence to performance targets by businesses and organisations. The term is primarily used to refer to this kind of behaviour within the provision of public services in the United Kingdom. Target culture often stems from not being able to accurately measure a broad social good like health, education or crime prevention: instead, specific target like increasing the number of people passing an examination or the number of arrests made by a police force is used.
The failure and investigation of Stafford Hospital has been blamed on target culture by some. The Guardian report in an interview with an anonymous senior NHS doctor that Stafford Hospital "was a graphic illustration of the growing disconnect we see every day between a target-driven culture and the best interests of our patients".
In 2008, the British Conservative Party politician Liam Fox, writing for the website ConservativeHome, lists Bristol Eye Centre as an example of the negative effects of a target culture: by trying to meet government targets to recruit more patients, they failed to make follow-up appointments with existing patients leading to some patients losing some or all of their eyesight.
- "Police condemn 'target culture'". BBC News Online. 15 May 2007.
- Edemariam, Aida (19 March 2009). "'A hospital is able to tick all the boxes, yet still utterly fail patients'". The Guardian.
- Fox, Liam (28 January 2008). "Changing our Labour induced target culture". ConservativeHome.