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It seems everyone is obsessed with measurement these days. In fact, you probably started your course by talking about research that informs current management thinking or the importance of quantitative analysis or quality management. The fact is lots of things are measured. If you haven’t already, you will soon be examining individual behavior. The author contends that individual behavior is difficult to measure and factors that predict performance success over the long haul are often not included in typical measures of performance. These measures – maximum performance measures – are quick, seemingly straightforward, and easily gather data on a large group. But the measures have little value beyond the test conditions themselves.


  1. Let’s begin with a review. In a general sense, why do supermarkets care about the speed of cashiers, NFL teams care about 40-yard dash times, or colleges care about scores on standardized tests? Do these things constitute data, information, or both? What does (or would) make these measurements useful information?
  2. Which major responsibility in the human resource management process is covered by the NFL Scouting Combine? What about the SAT? What about measuring cashier speed? There are two basic criteria associated with employment tests. Which is being called into question in the article when it contrasts maximum versus typical performance?
  3. If typical performance is trustworthy and accurately measured, would you be confident enough to make the decision to hire or reject a job candidate on that alone? If not, what else would you consider? If you are comfortable making the decision based on typical performance, would you be able to defend the practice in a court of law?

SOURCE: J. Lehrer, “Measurements That Mislead,” Wall Street Journal (Retrievable online at

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