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Measurement in Human Service Enterprises

History and Challenges
  • John S. Lyons
Chapter

Abstract

Measurement is the foundation of the scientific enterprise. All major scientific breakthroughs were preceded by a revolution in measurement and instrumentation, the methods used to apply a measurement. However, measurement is not solely the purview of science. Measurement is also fundamental to commerce—you can’t manage what you don’t measure. Human service settings are often at the fulcrum between the scientific perspective, which informs practice, and the business perspective, which manages that practice. The emergence of the information age has ignited an enhanced interest in the use of measurement processes to inform the management of human services. However, the use of numbers in managing human affairs dates to antiquity. In the biblical story of Noah, God gave specific instructions on the dimensions of the arc that Noah was to build. Wright (1997) cites the Muslim rule of seven from Caliph ‘Umar B. ‘Abd al-‘Aziz in Damacus in 723 ad. Taxes were not to exceed “seven weight.” Similarly, the Magna Carta established uniform measurement of commodities and products such as wine, ale, and corn, throughout England (Runnymede, 1215 as cited in Wright, 1997). In large part, these measurement processes were intended to facilitate fairness and reduce conflict associated with disagreements in commerce. In fact, modern currency has its roots as a measurement strategy to equate the value of various goods and services. This measurement was not science, it was business. Now we are able to equate most currencies in the global marketplace, making trade easier even as these currencies fluctuate in relative value based on a host of complex factors. Consequently, although measurement is the foundation of science, to view measurement exclusively within the realm of normal science is limiting. Measurement also has a crucial role in commerce. Since human service enterprises are essentially a set of business models to apply scientifically acquired knowledge, it becomes necessary to simultaneously consider both the scientific and the commercial perspectives when applying measures.

Keywords

Human Service Measurement Process Consumer Satisfaction Scientific Enterprise Logical Empiricism 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • John S. Lyons
    • 1
  1. 1.Endowed Chair of Child and Youth Mental Health ResearchUniversity of Ottawa and the Children‗s Hospital of Eastern OntarioOttawaCanada

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