Stressed by control? Dealing with increased an uncoordinated performance measurement in organizations

Research project
Inactive research
Project size
1 316 000 SEK to the Department, in total 2,23 million SEK
Project period
2016 - 2018
Project owner
Department of Business Administration, School of Business, Economics and Law

Short description

Stress in working life is a noticed problem in society. Many employees in Sweden indicate that they are stressed in their work and even more fear the problem will increase. An important reason behind the situation may be the increased – and often uncoordinated – exposure of performance measurement that many managers and employees face.

In the research project we pose three questions

1. How do comprehensive performance measurement arise and why is it permitted?
2. How do managers at different organizational levels deal with comprehensive performance measurement?
3. I which situations do comprehensive performance measurements cause stress?

A deeper understanding of the mechanisms and processes that potentially causes increased and uncoordinated performance measurement and in which situations it causes stress is warranted in order to prevent employee illness and waste of resources. The thesis in this research project is that performance measurement may be counterproductive, that is, cause behavior that contradicts realization of organizational objectives. When organizations increase the use of performance measures they also increase the risk that the system of performance measures becomes so large it does not guide and motivate good performance but instead causes confusion and stress. This may be explained by the circumstance that performance measurement system designers’ lack a reflected idea about how objectives are supposed to be realized.

Previous studies show that demands may cause stress if there is an imbalance between demands and the freedom of action and social support the responsible person receives. We intend to carry out two case studies where data are collected through documents, interviews and surveys. The City of Göteborg and Volvo Group have accepted to participate. Our research group has many years’ experience in conducting case studies and necessary competence in qualitative and quantitative data analysis.