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International Journal of Management Reviews

Performance Measurement and Management Systems: A Perspective from Complexity Theory

Journal Article
Okwir, Simon, Sai S. Nudurupati, Matías Ginieis and Jannis Angelis (2018). “Performance Measurement and Management Systems: A Perspective from Complexity Theory”. International Journal of Management Reviews 20(3), 731–754.

Simon Okwir, Sai S. Nudurupati, Matías Ginieis, Jannis Angelis

Complexity negatively impacts the process of continually improving performance management systems (PMSs). The extant PMS literature considers complexity to be a result of the external environment rather than a user response to that environment. However, this paper argues that organizations generally face internal complexity when adopting PMSs. Introducing PMSs into an organization can have varied effects in those organizations based on the complexity of an organization's associated members and its interactions. This study aims to understand the emergence of complexities while implementing and using PMSs in organizations. From the complexity theory perspective, four system properties (ontological, teleological, genetic and functional) are used to understand complexity in PMSs. The paper builds on a systematic literature review consisting of 76 papers and analyses them in the light of exploring sources of complexity when implementing and using PMSs. From the outset, complexity is understood to be a result of the conflict between existing organizational practices and mechanisms and the organizational controls associated with PMSs. The key findings abstracted six sources of complexity in this study: role, task and procedural types of complexity associated with the social dimension, and methodological, analytical and technological types of complexity associated with the technical dimension. The study findings contribute to the current discussion regarding why PMSs typically lag and are not responsive and resilient in emerging contexts. While understanding and exploring all organizational controls that moderate a PMS is useful, organizations should construct the necessary capabilities, depending on their context and adapt to the changes associated with PMSs.