Study «Indicator-based decision-making systems»
What does «indicator-based decision-making systems» mean?
In today’s complex societies, based on the division of labour, politicians and administrators are increasingly relying on measured values and statistics to control developments within society. Data that allow selected processes to be observed, and which are focussed on indicators, are used here as a basis for justifying, planning, implementing and evaluating social, political or economic interventions.
Opportunities and risks of «Indicator-based decision-making systems»
Public authorities, organisations and other agencies believe that their credibility is enhanced if they refer to indicators; indicator-based decision-making appears to be objectivelly corroboated and well-founded. Indicators are used to justify measures, and can make it easier to understand why decisions are taken. They should therefore guarantee transparency and increase the efficiency of administrative, governmental and business activity. They also encourage politicians, economists and administrators to adopt a scientific approach. Nevertheless, little is known about whether the transparency and objectivity associated with indicators come at a price, namely as negative consequences. For instance, critical voices are likely to be raised if decisions based on indicators become nothing more than a purely administrative act or even automated. There is therefore an urgent need for a debate on the advantages and disadvantages of indicator-based decision-making.
Why conduct a TA-SWISS study on «indicator-based decision-making systems» ?
Arguments substantiated by figures and measured values are becoming increasingly important for political, economic and cultural decision-making. There is therefore an urgent need for an investigation to evaluate the opportunities and risks of decision-making systems that are based on indicators.
Aims of the study
The study should provide information on a series of questions dealing with the definition, surveys and use of indicators – e.g. which social needs lead to the collecting of ever more data, and what (social and technical) conditions actually enable such collection. In addition, the investigation should explore which social actors are arguing for or against the development of indicators, and what arguments are put forward in justification of their particular views. The study also aims to analyse practical issues, such as the measurement methods used, and the samples on which they are based. Another area of interest is the implementation, or the application of the collected indicators: what measures will be undertaken on the basis of the measured data; what should be done about the possibility of unintentional (or possibly unrecorded) side effects of such measures?
Finally, in its conclusions, the study should formulate recommendations on how the positive effects of indicator-based decision-making systems can be enhanced and the risks mitigated.
- The subject will be investigated using the two thematic examples of sustainability and the education system.
- Specialist literature will be analysed to work out the corresponding foundations, and surveys will be conducted among experts and stakeholders from the areas of sustainability and education.
- Conclusions and recommendations will be formulated on the basis of the empirical analyses.
Project start: December 2008 | completion: spring 2010
TA-SWISS presents the final report of the study "Indicator-based decision-making systems"
Available in German and French
Available in German and French
All sized up - Counting, calculating and controlling in the knowledge-based society
Abridged version of the TA-SWISS study «Messen, werten, steuern. Indikatoren – Entstehung und Nutzung in der Politik», TA-SWISS, Bern, 2010, 11p.
Messen, werten, steuern
Indikatoren – Entstehung und Nutzung in der Politik
Ruth Feller-Länzlinger, Ueli Haefeli, Stefan Rieder, Martin Biebricher, Karl Weber, TA-SWISS, Bern, 2010, 152 pages. Available in German only.
10th of June 2010
Total vermessen - Zählen, berechnen, steuern in der Wissensgesellschaft
Presentation and Discussion of the Results of the TA-SWISS' Study
«Messen, werten, steuern. Indikatoren – Entstehung und Nutzung in der Politik» Bern
15th of June 2010
Indikatoren und Statistik: Erwartungen und Anforderungen - Messen, Werten Steuern
Meeting FEDESTAT / REGIOSTAT in collaboration with TA-SWISS
Federal Statistical Office (FSO), Neuchâtel
- Centre for Technology Assessment TA-SWISS
- Federal Statistical Office FSO
- Swiss Academy of Humanities and Social Sciences SAHS
- Federal Territory development Office ARE
TA-SWISS Project Supervisor
- Dr Lucienne Rey, external collaborator of TA-SWISS, e-mail
- Ruth Feller-Länzlinger, lic.phil.I, INTERFACE, Institute for Policy Studies (Project Manager)
- Corine Mauch, dipl. Ing. Agr. FIT and MPA (INTERFACE)
- Dr rer. pol Stefan Rieder, INTERFACE
- Prof. Dr Karl Weber, Central Office for Continuing Education at the University of Bern
- Dr phil. Rosmarie Waldner, science journalist (chairwoman of the support group)
- Ariane Baechler Söderström, Federal Office for Professional Education and Technology OPET
- Dr phil. André De Montmollin, Federal Statistical Office FSO
- Dr phil. Maja Huber, Federal Statistical Office FSO
- Michel Kammermann , Vice Director, Federal Statistical Office FSO
- Miriam Kull, Educational economist (Master), Swiss Coordination Centre for Research in Education SCCRE/SKBF/CSRE
- René Longet, Equiterre, Geneva
- Dr phil. Sabine Maasen, University of Basel
- Dr phil. Heinz Rhyn, Swiss Conference of Cantonal Ministers of Education EDK
- Prof. Dr Daniel Wachter, Federal Office for Spatial Development ARE
- Dr phil. Markus Zürcher, Swiss Academy of Humanities and Social Sciences SAHS
TA-SWISS reports and studies
- Study SoKuTA Technology Assessment Oriented to the Arts and Social Sciences , (2004/05)
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The project in brief
What are the reasons for our society’s growing need for figures? When does it make sense to rely on figures for political decision making?
The study deals with this type of questions, analysing the strengths and weaknesses of indicators for identifying and influencing social developments. The use of indicators in the educational system and in the field of sustainability has been explored extensively. Moreover, the study defines conditions that need to be met for a successful use of indicators and formulates concluding, relevant recommenda
Project: 2008 - 2010
Project mandataire: Office for Policy Studies INTERFACE