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Performance management and measurement - the experience of British multiple retailers 1920 to 1970

Hull, A. C. (2018) Performance management and measurement - the experience of British multiple retailers 1920 to 1970. PhD thesis, University of Reading

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Business performance management and measurement (PMM) systems are often viewed as relatively recent phenomena, responding to the failure of historical practices which prioritised financial measures. Emerging at the start of the 1990's, the topic has proven popular among both academics and practitioners alike; Kaplan and Norton's article on the "Balanced Scorecard - Measures that Drive Performance" is the third most cited Harvard Business Review article since the 1950's. However, despite the subsequent research, PMM systems have not lived 1 up to their early promise and there have been recent calls for a complete re-think of the discipline. Contributing to the debate on its future direction, this thesis explores how firms have measured and managed their performance in the past. It describes the cases of three British multiple retailers and analyses the organisation structures, processes and measures that they used to manage performance between 1920 and 1970. The findings raise questions about some of the core principles and assumptions that have underpinned PMM research over the last 25 years. They show that before 1950, far from being imposed through command and control processes, performance was managed collaboratively where the objective was not control but learning. They highlight the importance of socio-cultural factors and support the view that PMM systems should be considered social systems. They challenge whether measures deserve the central role that they are assumed to take in a modern PMM system. Finally, the findings show the importance of informal practices used by managers and directors and question whether these, rather than formal structures and processes, offer the best opportunity to understand performance holistically

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Thesis Supervisor:Scott, P. and Walker, J.
Thesis/Report Department:Henley Business School
Identification Number/DOI:
Divisions:Henley Business School > International Business and Strategy
ID Code:77843


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