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Tyranny of Metrics

by Jerry Z. Muller Princeton University Press
Pub Date:
03/2019
ISBN:
9780691191911
Format:
Pbk 248 pages
Price:
AU$34.99 NZ$37.38
Product Status: In Stock Now
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How the obsession with quantifying human performance threatens education, medicine, business, government'and the quality of our lives


 


Today, organizations of all kinds are ruled by the belief that the path to success is quantifying human performance, publicizing the results, and dividing up the rewards based on the numbers. But in our zeal to instill the evaluation process with scientific rigor, we've gone from measuring performance to fixating on measuring itself'and this tyranny of metrics now threatens the quality of our organizations and lives. In this brief, accessible, and powerful book, Jerry Muller uncovers the damage metrics is causing and shows how we can begin to fix the problem. Filled with examples from business, medicine, education, government, and other fields, the book explains why paying for measured performance doesn't work, why surgical scorecards may increase deaths, and much more. But the book also shows that, when used as a complement to judgment based on personal experience, metrics can be beneficial, and it includes an invaluable checklist of when and how to use them. The result is an essential corrective to a harmful trend that increasingly affects us all.


 


 


 
I’ve long harboured doubts about the metric mania, but it’s all laid out in a new book, The Tyranny of Metrics, by Jerry Muller.


 


Muller says we’ve been gripped by “metric fixation” which is “the seemingly irresistible pressure to measure performance, to publicise it, and to reward it, often in the face of evidence that this just doesn’t work very well”.


Ross Gittins, SMH & The Age


 


 


"Mercilessly exposes the downside of the cult of measurement and managerialism."--The Economist


 


"Muller delivers a riposte to bean counters everywhere with this trenchant study of our fixation with performance metrics."--Barbara Kiser, Nature


 


"Many of us have the vague sense that metrics are leading us astray, stripping away context, devaluing subtle human judgment, and rewarding those who know how to play the system. Muller's book crisply explains where this fashion came from, why it can be so counterproductive and why we don't learn. It should be required reading for any manager on the verge of making the Vietnam body count mistake all over again."--Tim Harford, Financial Times


 


"Highly readable."--Luke Johnson, Sunday Times
Jerry Z. Muller is professor of history at the Catholic University of America and the author of many books, including The Mind and the Market and Capitalism and the Jews (Princeton).