Upcoming talk on dialectics for performance management
Next Wednesday, June 30th, 2021, I will have the pleasure of presenting my work at the 12th conference of the Performance Measurement Association hosted by Groningen and Cranfield Universities.
Anyone who has ever tried to make change for the better, whether at work or in their personal lives, will have run into tensions, dilemmas, paradoxes, and contradiction. In this talk, I cover five that are ever-present in the world of performance management: the data vs. reality, promoting stability vs. promoting change, using information to understand the past vs. using it to guide toward the future, constraint vs. empowerment, and aligning individual goals vs. the goals of the organization. I’ll talk about how the dialectical perspective of Roy Bhaskar might provide a suitable foundation for informing decision-making in practice, especially compared contingency theory.
Not only is it thrilling to get to talk about how our assumptions drive practice, I’m slated to give my talk right before two people whose papers I have read literally hundreds of times: Monica Franco-Santos and David Otley. Their 2018 paper was a major inspiration for this work and gave me hope during the dark times of thesis write up that we might be moving toward being able to do more about dysfunction in the workplace.
The title of my talk is “Confronting contradictions in performance measurement and management with a dialectical framework”.
“Recent discussions in performance measurement and management (PMM) have highlighted numerous contradictions, dilemmas, and tensions emerging from the use of performance information in practice. However, a plausible means of both conceiving and addressing such tensions is currently lacking. To address this need, this paper explores a dialectical approach to PMM. We consider dialectics, essentially a set of philosophical assumptions on the nature of reality and change that centers on contradiction, and use this view to highlight pervasive contradictions of PMM. The discussion offers a number of implications for PMM research and practice.”