Understanding performance measurement and management as a social system: towards a theoretical framework

Helen Mackenzie*, Umit S. Bititci

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
76 Downloads (Pure)


Purpose: The conceptual foundations of performance measurement and management (PMM) are predominantly rooted in control systems research. However, the appropriateness of this paradigm for volatile and uncertain environments has been questioned. This paper explores whether grounding PMM in social systems theory and viewing uncertainty from an organisational behaviour perspective provides new insights into the PMM theory–practice gap.

Design/methodology/approach: A framework, rooted in social systems theory and practice theory, is created that describes how organisational behaviour shapes the social processes associated with organisational change. Semi-structured interviews of 35 people from 16 organisations coupled with thematic analysis are employed to identify the organisational behavioural characteristics that influence how PMM is executed in practice. PMM is then reconceptualised from the perspective of this social systems-based framework.

Findings: This investigation proposes (1) performance management is concerned with elements of PMM-related practices open to flexible interpretation by human agents that change the effectiveness of organisational practices, whereas performance measurement is concerned with elements of PMM-related practices not open to interpretation but deliberately reproduced to provide a consistent comparison with the past; (2) the purpose of PMM should be to achieve organisational effectiveness (OE) and (3) the mechanisms underlying performance management and performance measurement are social intervention and embeddedness, respectively.

Originality/value: This first social systems perspective of PMM advances the development of PMM's theoretical foundations by providing a behaviour-based interpretation of, and framework for, PMM-mediated organisational change. This competing approach has strong links to practice.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1098-1120
Number of pages23
JournalInternational Journal of Operations and Production Management
Issue number7
Early online date17 Jan 2023
Publication statusPublished - 29 May 2023


  • Mechanisms
  • Organisational behaviour
  • Organisational effectiveness
  • Performance management
  • Performance measurement
  • Social systems

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Decision Sciences
  • Strategy and Management
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


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