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Measuring the performance of a research strategic plan system using the soft systems methodology’s three ‘Es’ and the viable system model’s indices of achievement

Paucar-Caceres, Alberto (2009) Measuring the performance of a research strategic plan system using the soft systems methodology’s three ‘Es’ and the viable system model’s indices of achievement. Systemic practice and action research, 22 (6). pp. 445-462. ISSN 1094-429X

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Abstract

We explore problems involving the measurement of the performance of a system. We outline two systemic approaches that have come from different epistemological positions: one from the interpretivist paradigm (soft systems methodology) and the other from the cybernetic paradigm (viable systems model). These two systemic methodologies that have tackled problems involving performance measurement are considered and discussed: (a) Checkland’s systems ideas of ‘managing and controlling’ a system throughout a set of three measures of performance: efficacy, efficiency and effectiveness; and (b) Beer’s concepts of Actuality, Capability, Potentiality of the firm and his claims that the performance of a system needs to be quantifiable and resumed on ‘pure’ numbers which should reflect the survivability of the firm. A parallel is drawn between the two approaches concluding that although the paradigms underpinning them are in some way different, the practicalities of these approaches to control, measure and improve the performance of a system are very similar. A case involving the measurement of a proposed research strategic plan for a Manchester Metropolitan University Business School’s department is used to illustrate the systemic approaches.

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