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Exploring the Impact of Human Value Systems on Performance Measurement

Hebel, Maria (1998). Exploring the Impact of Human Value Systems on Performance Measurement. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City, University of London)


This thesis explores how performance measurement in organisations is effected by the human value systems of those concerned with measurement. Its origins lie in the observation that despite many efforts to devise useful measures of performance, problems continued to exist. It was subsequently hypothesised that problems are generic rather than job specific. This led to research in four very different organisations and the consequent exploration of human values theory in a systemic context.

For the purpose of this thesis performance measurement is taken to be any form of assessment of organisation or individual accomplishment. Such measures may stand alone, be combined with others or checked against a pre-set standard When combined they are often referred to as performance indicators or league tables.

Values are beliefs about what seems right and important; they are not necessarily virtues. People, families, societal and work organisations all possess value systems. Values are inculcated early in the life of both humans and organisations and are reinforced over time and experience. Both individuals and groups typically hold more than one value, usually they have combinations that form value systems.

Human values theory is linked to systems science by investigating the behaviour of groups of values. It is argued that value systems have the emergent properties of attitudes and behaviours. These are essentially a response to other values and value systems. This emergence is likely to be unpredictable when faced with unfamiliar, cogent or inflexible norms. Consequently it is not only important to be clear about the value systems embodied in performance measurement but also those rated highly by those being measured

This thesis concludes that performance measurement needs to be more closely matched to the values of the people being measured if it is to be successful. It is argued that singling out individual values is not the most useful way of applying values theory as changes occur swiftly and subconsciously in human activity systems. Instead it is proposed that statements representing world-views give a better picture of the environment into which performance measurement might be introduced. A selection of such value statements are suggested here but it is stressed that these need to be adapted to the organisation concerned in order to be most useful. These can be used to assess priorities but should at all times be considered in combination with other values so that emergence is not ignored.

Publication Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: H Social Sciences
H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > HD28 Management. Industrial Management
Departments: Doctoral Theses
School of Science & Technology > School of Science & Technology Doctoral Theses
School of Science & Technology
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