Quest for Balance: The Human Element in Performance Management Systems

Measuring Business Excellence

ISSN: 1368-3047

Article publication date: 1 June 2004


Narasimhan, K. (2004), "Quest for Balance: The Human Element in Performance Management Systems", Measuring Business Excellence, Vol. 8 No. 2.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2004, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Quest for Balance: The Human Element in Performance Management Systems

Quest for Balance: The Human Element in Performance Management Systems

André A. de Waal,John Wiley,ISBN 0-471-20571-0,2003,hardback,251 pages,£32.50DOI 10.1108/13683040410539463

Measuring business excellence in the new millennium involves the use of an effective and efficient performance management system. Implementing new systems is fraught with danger on account of the human tendency to resistance change and ''getting the people issues right'' is critical. In this book, André De Wall, a partner with Holland Consulting Group, examines the role of the human element in the implementation of such systems.

De Wall has a doctoral degree in economics, and is certified in production and inventory management; he also has wide experience in the implementation of production, logistics, and financial software packages and has published widely on the topic of performance management.

The book comprises five chapters, grouped into two parts, and two appendices (A and B). Part one deals with behavioral factors and part two with behavioral styles. Appendix A contains the activity plan, interview list, document research question list, questionnaire, and feedback reporting list of topics that were used in the case study research used in part one. Appendix B contains the questionnaire used for eliciting how managers use information on performance evaluation.

In chapter 1, de Wall first gives an overview of the modern management control and information system followed by an examination of the history and the developments of performance management systems (PMS). The importance of determining critical success factors and the corresponding key performance indicators, and the concept of balanced scorecard are also covered. Research evidence to support the hypothesis that organizations with a balanced PMS exhibit different cultures and are more successful than those without are provided.

In chapter 2, the various behavioral factors that contribute to the successful implementation and continuous use of effective and efficient performance management system are identified. These factors are considered based on seven groups: development method, content, feedback, controlled system, controlling system, internal environment, and external environment. First, the various classifications and the subparts are described. Then the various behavioral factors and the clarifying questions for each of the classifications and the subparts are tabulated. This is followed by a table of detailed research questions to elicit answers corresponding to the three stages of planning, development, and putting the system into use.

Three case studies are provided in chapter 3, to describe how the importance of behavioral factors identified in chapter 2 was investigated. The organizations involved were Academic Hospital Utrecht, The Kadster (the land registry office of the Netherlands), and European Information Services (part of a multinational organization in the oil industry).

Chapter 4 is conceptual work about specific management styles that managers should display to make frequent, day-to-day use of performance management for specific purposes. First, the possible uses of PMS are identified based on the work of Doll and Torkzadeh (1998) on management information systems. Second, a questionnaire is devised based on literature search on management styles and related behaviors. Finally, nine assumptions are drawn about the relations between the two.

Chapter 5 describes the survey used to test the assumptions at 11 organizations. First, a description of the organizations used in the survey is given, followed by an analysis of the survey using principal component analysis to confirm the applicability of the questionnaires. Next, the results of the correlation analysis to establish the relationship between measures of PMS use, management styles, and organizational performance are discussed. Finally, it is concluded that age and experience of the manager has no effect on the use of a PMS, and a manager who possesses a range of styles and uses a PMS can expect a better performance.

The book is well written and can be used as an example for conducting research. The statistical results may put off practicing managers and would be welcomed by academics. The most notable feature is the insight provided regarding the different styles of management and their relationship with performance.

K. NarasimhanLearning and Teaching FellowBolton Institute, UK

ReferenceDoll, W.J. and Torkzadeh, G. (1998), "Developing a multi dimensional measure of system-use in an organizational context", Information Management, Vol. 33, pp. 171-85