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Performance measurement in communities: a dilemma for research

By Martha Vahl


Researchers are collecting all sorts of data and applying numerous research designs to\ud establish some rationale for allocation, support and provision of public resources for\ud members of communities.Most data are collected and analysed on the basis that individuals\ud can be treated as objects to which certain properties or variables can be ascribed. In\ud the UK the ‘Indices of Deprivation’ is one those instruments used to collect, analyse, classify\ud and rank geographical wards according to indicators of multiple deprivation. These\ud results are considered to indicate how communities are performing, a high score indicating\ud which wards are the most deprived. The next step is to create services and resources to\ud start reducing deprivation. The main characteristic of this type of approach is that service\ud users are seen as consumers or people in need of something that the service can satisfy.\ud A fair bit of criticism has grown over time as to the cost of this system and concerning\ud the fact service users are excluded as stakeholders and designers of their own ‘services’. It\ud appears that the problem is in the approach of research chosen to measure deprivation.\ud Other approaches are possible that respond to the criticism. They aim to reduce the cost\ud and to contribute to the design of ‘services’ or support systems that are inclusive. They are\ud not based on variables and indicators, but aim to allow service users to include experiences\ud as contributions towards the support offered to them.\ud The paper offers examples of how interventions can be designed such that clients are\ud included in the design in what is to serve them. They are based on creating a collective\ud task. They show how the impacts of the activities of various interacting community\ud groups in a ward can be researched to deal with the criticism. Different types of performance\ud measures based on the inclusion of experiences (e.g. values) are explored. They can\ud be interpreted as a research contribution towards the design of self-organising collectives

Topics: N100 Business studies, L400 Social Policy
Year: 2007
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