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Performance Measurement - Some Conceptual Issues

NCJ Number
Evaluation and Program Planning Volume: 3 Issue: 1 Dated: (1980) Pages: 35-43
Date Published
9 pages
This article reviews several definitions and approaches to performance measurement, considers what is involved in making a statement about the effectiveness or performance of a given system, and proposes a new conceptual minmalist position.
Most literature on organizational effectiveness is dominated by two main approaches: treating the organization as primarily a purposive goal-seeking entity, or treating it as an open system. The organizational goals approach tries to specify the elements of a single set of performance measures by focusing on the organization's goals. However, official statements of such goals are likely to be vague, may not define what the organization is actually trying to do and may not be available at all. Although senior officials offer clearer goals, they may not always agree, may not propose the only relevant goals, and may withhold information. The systems resource approach has two major drawbacks: reliance on the assumption that competitive processes are operating in the environment and possible misleading results of measures over brief time periods. A conceptual minimalist approach is proposed that makes as few assumptions and identifies as many issues as possible for empirical examination. The only assumptions proposed are that any given complex social system is likely to be evaluated by more than one individual or group, and that each constituency will use some system-relevant information in making their assessment of the system's effectiveness. The term 'performance measure set' is proposed for that set of measures which can be shown to affect a given constituency's assessment. A note and 28 references are provided. (Author abstract modified)

Date Published: January 1, 1980