Beliefs on measures and measurement - a comparison between theory and practice

University essay from Göteborgs universitet/Företagsekonomiska institutionen

Author: Jörgen Jonsson; Maria Moa; [2008-12-16]

Keywords: ;

Abstract: Background: There is a tendency in today’s society towards an increased focus on measuresand measurement, not least within organizations. Companies use various management controlsystems where great emphasis is put on measures and measurement. However, not allreactions are positive; a number of authors have directed criticism towards this development.The fact that different opinions are expressed within the area of measures and measurementmakes it interesting to compare theoretical perspectives with practice.Research question: Are measures and measurement comprehended differently by a user ofthe formal management control system compared to an administrator of it, and are themeasures and measurement perceived to give value?Purpose: Our purpose is threefold. One objective is to describe whether measures are morenumerous today than previously. Another objective is to investigate whether the measures arebeing used and if they are experienced as useful. Thus, this objective becomes a comparisonbetween theory and practice. We also aim to interpret the understanding of measures on thepart of individuals at different organizational positions. A third objective is trying to interpretthe answers that surface from the first two objectives.Delimitations: The area explored in this essay is limited to finding out how measures andmeasurement are comprehended by two individuals at different organizational positions, inthree different companies.Method: We have conducted six interviews with individuals at different organizationalpositions in three companies. The interview method used was qualitative; the interviews weresimilar to an open conversation in order to, as far as possible, elicit the true experiences andopinions of the interviewees.Key findings: Since we have taken an interpretative approach, we have not been able to cometo any general conclusions. However, we have made some interesting findings regardingdifferences and similarities between theory and practice. All interviewees considered thenumber of measures and the focus on measurement to have increased. However, there seem tobe differences between opinions and experiences of individuals at different organizationalpositions.Suggestions for further research: One suggestion for further research is to perform a pieceof in-depth research and participate in management meetings and in an observing role be ableto hear what the managers really talk about regarding measures and measurement. Anothersuggestion concerns the use of the Balanced Scorecard and other popular management controlsystems with respect to the concept of decoupling.

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