Performance measures and managerial work : a modified behavior setting approach to the study of usage of performance measures in managerial meetings

University dissertation from Linköping : Linköpings universitet

Abstract: The application of different technologies in managerial work has received widespread attention among both academics and practitioners. Performance measures constitute one such technology related to planning, coordination, control and improvement of organizational activities. What kind of significance do performance measures have in their usage in managerial work? This study focuses on the various social, material, temporal and spatial resources of usage of performance measures; the activities taking place within meetings where performance measures are being used, and the significance of performance measures in the coordination of units within a hierarchical organization.The usage of performance measures is conceptualized by a modified version of behavior setting theory, which was originally developed by the psychologist Roger Barker and his research group. A behavior setting can be seen as a small-scale social system whose components include people and physical objects. This social system is guided by its setting program; the goal and the sequentially ordered activities. To fulfil the requirements of the focus in the present study, a setting program must partly consist of activities devoted to the usage of performance measures.The empirical study encompasses observations from managerial meetings (selected by a formal procedure) within various hierarchical levels of a manufacturer of complex industrial products. Some of the themes highlighted in this study are: I) the social, material and temporal environment of managerial work influencing the usage of performance measures; 2) that the usage of performance measures is mainly a reflective activity emerging from the organizational history; 3) that linkages between hierarchical levels, such as leadership and population overlapping as well as performance measure overlapping, both limit and enable coordination; and 4) that performance measures within the studied context constitute an important role in creating knowledge about organizational activity.

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