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In Data We Trust – Or We Don't! Re-conceptualizing Measurement in Organizations and Society

  • 1.  In Data We Trust – Or We Don't! Re-conceptualizing Measurement in Organizations and Society

    Posted 07-15-2019 04:46

    Join us for an OMT Café at AOM

    In Data We Trust – Or We Don't! Re-conceptualizing Measurement in Organizations and Society

    Saturday, August 10, 4:30-6:00pm

    Sonsie at 327 Newbury St, Boston, MA 02115 (

    Organized by Pietro Micheli (Warwick Business School) and Marya Besharov (Cornell University)

    In recent decades, measurement has become ubiquitous in organizations and society. Organizations across the for-profit, non-profit and public sectors are adopting performance indicators and other assessment tools to capture social and environmental, not just financial and operational dimensions of performance. Policy-makers complement economic indicators such as GDP with social-psychological ones such as life satisfaction and happiness. Even in the realm of personal health, measurement is pervasive, with wearable devices and apps tracking our personal health and well-being. Yet research on measurement has not fully kept pace with these developments. Scholars disagree about the consequences of measurement, with some regarding it as an unproblematic technical endeavour (e.g., we just need to find the "right measure") and others suggesting it triggers dysfunctional behaviors such as gaming and cheating. Moreover, the measurement process itself remains largely a black box. Particularly in contexts beyond for-profit firms, few studies unpack the dynamics through which individuals and organizations design, adopt, and use measurement instruments.

    This OMT café will launch an open dialogue on the nature, roles, and consequences of measurement in organizations and society. Questions we would like to explore include:

    • Is measurement simply a synonym for quantification?
    • Should measurement results be trusted more than opinions and why?
    • Is measurement a general process which applies equally to various types of outcomes (e.g., financial, social, environmental) and across different organizational forms (e.g., for-profit, non-profit, public, hybrid), or is it necessarily contextual?
    • What constitutes effective measurement? Is it based on having a process that provides accurate and precise information or one that leads to the intended actions, behaviours, and results?

    We invite you to join us in a lively conversation to unpack the increasingly pervasive practices and processes of measurement across organizations and society.

    Marya Besharov
    Associate Professor
    Cornell University
    Ithaca NY
    (607) 255-8524