Jerry Z. Muller


On his book The Tyranny of Metrics

Cover Interview of April 16, 2018


My purpose is in part to help articulate the vague sense of frustration that so many people have with the organizations in which they work. By pointing out the problems with metric fixation in a systematic way, I hope to make it possible for people to explain to themselves what has gone wrong, and to provide some useful guidelines about when to use measurement and how to do so. My point is not that measurement is bad. It is that measurement requires judgment: about what is worth measuring, about the costs of measuring, about the significance of what is measured.

Recently, I gave a talk about the book at a local Washington bookstore. During the Q&A, a fellow who had recently retired from a career in foreign aid rose and said that the dysfunctions I described were exactly what he had experienced in recent years. After the talk, he bought ten copies of the book, to distribute to his former bosses in foreign aid organizations. That’s the sort of reaction I’m hoping for.