in recognized education programs, participate visibly in associations, attract an important journal editorship, develop a well-oiled alumni organization, develop

visibly one or two specializations, have at least one faculty member publishing in the popular press, and have at least one “grantsman-rainmaker” in the faculty.


unmeasured areas are neglected (Smith 1995). For example, intangibles such as training and advice may be ignored. Blau (1955) gives an example of tunnel vision in an

employment agency. Interviewers were motivated to complete as much interviews as possible. By doing this, they did not pay sufficient attention to other activities

such as locating new jobs. A tunnel vision may be avoided by including more indicators. However, by adding indicators the risk of mushrooming is increasing too..

Fifthly, sub-optimization refers to the pursuit of local organizational objectives at the expense of supra organizational objectives (Hood 1974; Bouckaert and Balk

1991; Smith 1993; Perrin 1998). The optimal result for a single organization may not always be optimal in a broader context. This is especially immanent when the

production of an outcome is the responsibility of a sequence of several actors. Security is such a outcome of a chain of outputs. First, there is prevention. For

instance, public places need to be well lit at night. People in shopping areas need to be alerted for pickpockets. Next, the police needs to patrol and make arrests.

The public prosecutor has to institute legal action. The courts have to pass judgments. Finally, the prisons have to detain convicts. Ideally, the social services run

programs to reintegrate detainees into society. The optimal result is as much safety as possible. A police force may score well on an indicator such as the number of

arrests by arresting more quickly, including the lesser offences. This may be optimal for the police force, but suboptimal for the ultimate outcome. The limited

capacity of the judicial system may become strained, and the more serious crimes may remain unsolved.

The sixth reaction is cream skimming (orNeed a Professional Writer to Work on this Paper and Give you Original Paper? CLICK HERE TO GET THIS PAPER WRITTEN cherry picking) (Behn and Kant 1999; Grizzle 2002). Organizations may be tempted to select the intake. Easy cases and clients

are processed while the more difficult cases are redirected. Job training programs for instance could select the unemployed that are most likely to find a job

(Anderson, Burkhauser and Raymond 1993; Heckman, Heinrich and Smith 1997). This may be economically efficient, but it usually contrasts with the political goals of

public programs. This effect is conditional. Demand for the service needs to be higher than supply and the selection decision needs to be made by the organization


Seventhly, complacency is the lack of ambition brought about by adequate comparative performance. Many organizations may want to stay securely in the pack. The French

phrase pour vivre heureux, vivons caché (in order to live happily, we need to live concealed) is emblematic for this position. The reasoning is that both top and low

performers may lose budgets. The result of complacency is stagnation. Overall performance will tend towards the average. This effect may lead to the performance

paradox (Meyer and Gupta 1994; Van Thiel and Leeuw 2002). Throughout time, the indicator does not discriminate between bad and good performers because organizations

adapt to each other.

Eighthly, gaming refers to altering behavior and output for the strategic reasons (Smith 1995). This is particularly the case in principal agent relations, where

targets are set externally. Organizations may


deliberately lower performance in order to avoid higher targets for the next year. Principals are tempted to increase the standard for superior performers. Agents

foresee this possibility and may be hesitant to supply bigger effort in order to avoid increases in their targets. Target inflation is also termed the ratchet effect.

Fear of the ratchet effect annuls the incentives that a measurement system is believed to introduce (Courty and Marschke 2003).

Ninthly, ossification in medicine is the formation of bone in the body. Analogously, excessively rigid measurement system may lead to organizational paralysis (Smith

1995). For instance, too detailed time registration systems may inhibit experimentation. Innovation inherently requires some tolerance towards failure. When time

registration systems make every failure visible and the cost computable, innovation may be inhibited.

Finally, measurement and target setting may lead to polarization of good and bad cases. Some services or cases may be hopeless in the light of the target. Rather than

investing more resources to get these services to an acceptable level, organizations may decide to give up these services and to invest in the marginal cases. This may

be termed as the total loss effect, since some cases are virtually thrown away. An example may be found in railroad companies. The indicator typically is the

percentage of trains arriving on time. A railroad company would rather have one train being much too late or even cancelled than many trains being a little late (De

Morgen 20 September 2005).

9.3. Goal displacement; for good and for bad
We identified seventeen responses to performance measurement that are usually very familiar to both practitioners and researchers of performance measurement. Although

the effects may be very recognizable, the sheer length of the lists (which in all probability is still incomplete80) calls for a unifying theoretical foundation. In

this text, we will focus on ten effects where the output quantity or quality is altered. Mostly, these are the effects with the highest impact, since real service

delivery is altered and not only its portrayal. The concept of goal displacement may serve as common denominator for the list of responses to performance measurement

(Bohte and Meier 2000).

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Goal displacement is the process whereby “an instrumental value becomes a terminal value” (Merton 1968). The means become ends. Performance indicators are means for

better planning, managing and evaluating organizations and policies. Yet, in all ten cases, the measures are becoming ends at the expense of terminal values such as

better service delivery and policies. These responses are


Gerald Caiden identified 132 bureaupathologies from the literature (1991). These certainly do not all arise from measurement. Yet, it gives an indication of the

multitude administrative dysfunctions.


dysfunctional strategies to score well on the indicators. Creaming for instance excludes those people that may benefit the most of a program (Perrin 1998). Complacency

with performance and ossification lead to a loss of innovation. In all ten cases, goal displacement is seen as a negative. The change in organizational output is

considered harmful. The result of goal displacement is the development of a measurement culture, at the expense of performance culture (U.K. House of Commons – Public

Administration Select Committee 2003).

However, the proponents of performance measurement are also concerned with goal displacement. Performance measurement has to bring about goals displacement (1), or has

to avoid it (2).

First, in some cases goal displacement is simply the aim of performance measurement (1). The introduction of performance indicators is done precisely to alter

organizational output. This course of action is a central assumption in principal agent relations. This literature states that monitoring is one of the main

transaction costs in aligning the divergent objectives of principals and agents (Alchian and Demsetz 1972). Performance contracts between central government and

autonomous agencies may serve as a tool in making agencies work towards the goals of government (Verhoest 2002). Another example is national indicator initiatives such

as the Lisbon criteria of the European Union. The Lisbon indicators are a set of indicators and targets on innovation, economic and social performance agreed upon by

the member states of the European Union. The idea is to align national goals with the European program. This approach is called ‘the open method of coordination’

(European Commission 2000; 2001a; Tucker 2003)81. In these cases, the instrumental value, the performance indicators, are means to force organizations or governments

in the direction of particular terminal values. These terminal values may differ from the initial values of the organization.

Secondly, in other cases performance measurement has to avoid goal displacement (2). Hatry (1999) for instance states that measuring performance should increase the

ability of managers to get the job done with the resources they have. Managers need to know the running score in order to keep the organization on track towards their

goal. By measuring progress towards goals, the organization avoids pursuing the erroneous goals. Again, the instrumental value, the performance indicators, is a means

to keep the organization on track of the terminal value.

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