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Measuring and Managing Performance in Organizations by Robert D. Austin, Timothy Lister, Tom DeMarco

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Chapter Fifteen. The Cynical Explanation of Dysfunction

The unimaginative principal might never consider alternatives to measurement-based control strategies and might not consider whether the task is at all suited to redesign for measurement. She might simply succumb to the standardization reflex, again and again. But it becomes increasingly difficult to believe in the earnest theory when principals repeatedly experience the cycle of job redesign, measurement, and dysfunction. Designers of measurement systems sometimes seem to continue in measurement-based control efforts despite knowing that their efforts are unlikely to work. This observation calls for a more “cynical” explanation of dysfunction in which system designers are assumed to exhibit ...

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