The Socio-technical Balanced Scorecard for Assessing a Public University

The Socio-technical Balanced Scorecard for Assessing a Public University

Ramanjit Singh (University of Manchester, UK) and Trevor Wood-Harper (University of Manchester, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61692-016-6.ch003
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Abstract

The socio-technical theory is concerned with humanistic welfare paradigm. The socio-technical principles aim to improve redundant jobs and thereby benefit human work lives. Hence, jobs are enriched using flexible work methods, empowerment strategies and new technologies. Balanced scorecard is a framework that measures whether the firm is meeting its objectives in terms of vision and strategy. It assesses four perspectives: financial, customer, internal business processes and innovation & learning. Even though the balanced scorecard has proven to be beneficial in the for-profit organizations of the past, most non-profit organizations were unable to utilize the balanced scorecard. The original configuration of balanced scorecard placed financial goals on the top of the hierarchy and since maximizing shareholder wealth is not the main objective for most non-profit organizations, it was not widely applied by these organizations. Since non-profit organizations usually operate to maximize the well-being of the society, socio-technical work design principles may receive a greater acceptance in these organizations than in for-profit organizations. Thus, a socio-technical balanced scorecard for the non-profit organizations will be formulated with an emphasis on employee perspective and a public university wide assessment will be proposed.
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Historical Overview Of The Socio-Technical Theory

The socio-technical theory was first applied in organizations in the 1970s. It was believed that socio-technical ideas could facilitate the design of jobs in a way that improve human work lives. So, jobs were enriched using flexible work methods, empowerment strategies and new technologies. Even though many organizations applied the socio-technical theory in the past, people still have jobs that are routine, closely monitored and provide little room for personal development (Checkland & Holwell, 2004; Checkland & Scholes, 1990). Perhaps, we need to ask us two but important questions. First, why did socio-technical interest decrease in the 1980s and 1990s? Second, can the socio-technical theory provide guidance for meeting challenges of the 21st century? Today, a complex economic environment surrounds the organizations and it has a significant impact on its performance and the way it functions in the society. In order to realize production efficiency, clear specification to goals need to be followed and control structures need to be in place. Even though the visionary group at Tavistock institute believed in participative goal setting, many organizations pay no attention to employee participation when designing jobs. Hence, when jobs are designed, social risks and consequences of work are often overlooked by the management (Mumford, 2003, 2006).

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