The Tyranny of Metrics

The Tyranny of Metrics

Jerry Z. Muller

Philip K. Howard has argued that the decline of trust leads to a new mindset in which “[ a] voiding human choice in public decisions is not just a theory … but a kind of theology…. Human choice is considered too dangerous.” As a consequence, “Officials no longer are allowed to act on their best judgment” 4 or to exercise discretion, which is judgment about what the particular situation requires. 5 The result is overregulation: an ever tighter web of rules, including the proliferation of rules within organizations. 6 Often enough, metrics provides the tools for tightening that web. Over-measurement is a form of overregulation, just as mismeasurement is a form of misregulation.

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