Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Teaching Performance Measurement

If there is one sure sign that performance measurement has at least begun taking root as an official field of academic study, it's the following equation: P = S + T + E + C + M. That confection is the brainchild of Ed Jennings, a professor of public affairs and administration at the University of Kentucky's Martin School of Public Policy and Administration. Translated almost into English, the equation means that performance (P) is a product of government structure (S), program treatments (T), environmental factors (E), client characteristics (C) and managerial actions (M).

Jennings has been in the academic vanguard of teaching results-focused government, and has been thinking long and hard about how to analyze and explain it. "The work I've done is to examine whether it actually makes any difference," Jennings says. The performance equation is something that Jennings teaches his public-administration students. It may seem a bit esoteric to shoehorn the frequently messy work of administration into an equation. But Jennings' students head into the workplace with at least some background in what to expect when their bosses tell them to "manage for results."

-Novices with Numbers

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