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The rise of metrics

русская версия

Опубликовано на портале: 29-12-2018
TERRA ECONOMICUS. 2018.  Т. 16. № 4. С. 6-16. 
Тематический раздел:
Metrics have become an increasingly important social institution. In particular, Neoliberal economic policy have emphasized the role of metrics. Such types of metrics as key performance indicators, rankings and various indices are used for improved economic coordination and motivation in the private and especially in the public sectors of the economy. In the context of Neoliberal economic policy, metrics complement, and sometimes replace, market coordination. The use of metrics is usually justified by the need for quantitative benchmarks both to promote competition and control it. Neoliberalism supports application of performance indicators, which do not expand opportunities, but guide the choice so the latter is constrained by a given framework, with the role of bureaucratic regulation strengthened. The use of metrics in ideology and economic policy results in a lock-in effect, supporting the concept of the institutional trap of metrics. The use of quantitative indicators could be attributed to the lack of priority of social and organizational values, and their role for coordination of repetitive social interactions. Two levels of metrics are suggested as including vertical and baseline ones. The applicability of metrics is limited by the scale of the activity they are intended to coordinate, and by the characteristics of the institutional environment. Baseline metrics are designed by experts who have explicit and implicit knowledge on the functioning of specific departments of an organization and specific production processes. In contrast, vertical metrics are designed by managers who neither possesses sufficient information and implicit knowledge, nor rooted in the profession. Higher education can be suggested as an example of widespread use of metrics for regulatory, incentive and monitoring purposes. To reduce negative effects for higher education, baseline metrics, which are complementary to professional values, are suggested to replace the vertical ones.
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