Performance Measurement: Social, Behavioral and Political Science Perspectives on Design and Implementation

Professor: Nelson
Units: 1.0
Elective Course
Concentration: Social and Behavioral Science

Performance measurement has been an enduring part of the policy and programmatic landscape for decades. Professional policy analysts are frequently called up on to help organizations design and implement performance measurement systems at the individual, group, and organizational levels, and to use performance data to inform decision-making. Design and implementation of effective performance measurement systems is an inherently multidisciplinary activity and requires a firm grasp of the science of measurement and an ability to leverage a wide variety of social and behavior science constructs to understand the nature of the systems we seek to measure.

In this course we examine performance measurement both as a means to represent systems and as strategies for changing and improving systems. By the end of the course, students will have improved their ability to: (a) assess the appropriateness of performance measurement in a variety of contexts, (b) identify the uses and users of performance data, (c) identify and select system elements worth measuring, (d) identify, select, and develop feasible data sources, (e) develop approaches for linking performance data to consequences, and (f) develop approaches to using performance data to support decision-making. The course has a practical “design and implementation” orientation, and will use real-world cases to understand how performance measurement systems operate in operational, organizational, and political contexts. Examples will come from a variety of variety of policy areas, including education, health, public safety, defense, and others.