TERRA ECONOMICUS, , Vol. 17 (no. 3),

The public service reforms implemented over the past decades in many countries have a common feature – these reforms, known under the umbrella term of New Public Management (NPM), adopted practices of the business management. NPM principles imply setting quantifiable targets in public organizations. A number of recent empirical studies have shown negative impact of these reforms on service quality and motivation in the public sector. Nevertheless, the situation does not change because the superior authorities argue that it is impossible to manage the sector development without quantified targets. The paper analyses this argumentation. The paper deals with the critical points of contemporary (representative) measurement theory. As the author suggests, subjective judgment is not only a kind of measurement but is an indispensable part of any decision making. Differences between the targets in commercial organizations (firms) and those in public service sector are clarified. The former have a “natural” metric, that is, money, and its values depend on the firms’ profit maximization. The latter do not have “natural” metrics and specific criteria for measuring, so are merely the results of subjective judgments of the agencies’ heads, presented numerically. Virtually, those kinds of targets are not more than illusion of quantities. Striving to achieve those targets, the public servants actually engage in gaming, and this drives down the quality of the public services.
Citation: Tambovtsev, V. L. (2019). Management without measurement. Terra Economicus, 17(3), 6–29. DOI: 10.23683/2073-6606-2019-17-3-6-29

Keywords: measurement; scales; judgement; target; gaming

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ISSN: 2073-6606