Wednesday, June 19, 2013

A Rose by any other Name Smells just as Sweet: is Efficiency the same as Effectiveness?

The above is a Cyrilic script which means, "What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet."  These words form part of Juliet's sonnet of the 17th century Shakespearean lovers' tragedy. In it, she lamented that Romeo's name did not take away from his seemingly perfect character in the same manner that changing the name of a rose will not make it smell less pleasant. Can we apply the same reasoning to the efficiency and effectiveness of our Air Navigation Service Providers (ANSPs)? Is an efficient ANSP the same as an effective ANSP? Does it matter  if we use these terms interchangeably to describe our ANSPs?

Efficiency and effectiveness are 2 terminologies that describe organizational performance. While we may be tempted to use them interchangeably, researchers have made a distinction between the two. Efficiency refers to the comparison or ratio of inputs relative to that of outputs, while effectiveness  is the examination of the extent to which inputs are acquired and utilised, or the limits of accomplishing certain outcomes. Similar views have been investigated by the pioneers in organizational performance studies (Pennings and Goodman, 1977; Ostroff and Schmitt, 1993). How can we apply this reasoning in our sphere of Air Traffic Services (ATS)? 
An ANSP might be efficient because it can train and retrain Air Traffic Controllers (ATCOs) in a relatively short period of time. But this ANSP may be ineffective, because it might be caught in an ongoing cycle of training due to several reasons that include high turnover and leapfrogging to keep pace with the procedures of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). Whatever the reason, the root of ineffectiveness for ANSPs lie in their misperception of organizational deficiencies as well as misuse and inadequate allocation of organizational resources. 
While it is everyone's wish to declare that their ANSP is among the best in global efficiency and effectiveness in providing ATS, we should be careful about affirming speculations. An ANSP will truly know whether it is efficient or effective only after an appraisal of its performance. How many ANSPs  are consistent in gauging their organizational performance? 
To thrive, ANSPs are required to be both efficient and effective (Katz and Kahn, 1978; Mahoney, 1988; Ostroff and Schmitt, 1993). However, there are some ANSPs who are very efficient but not so effective and few have found a balance between efficiency and effectiveness (Grigorov and Mark, 2013). 

In the unfortunate lovers' tragedy, Juliet and Romeo were forbidden to publicly explore their romantic notions for each other because the Capulets had an ongoing feud wth the Montagues - the family names were associated with a historical disagreement between them. Similarly, we will be able to accurately describe our ANSPs by investigating their performance. We can have an indication of the extent to which we are simply doing the right things by being efficient and the extent to which we are also effective by doing the things right in our ANSPs. 
Note, performance evaluation of ATCOs and complementary staff in an ANSP is not an indication of organizational performance which has several dimensions.  One such methodology for organizational performance measurement is called the Prism Performance Measurement (Neely et al, 2002). You can view another blog post here for further information on this type of measurement.  
Without adequate secular training, measuring the dimensions of efficiency and effectiveness in an ANSP may seem daunting because there are no direct measurements for these dimensions, particularly effectiveness.  The question that arises then, is: How can we measure efficiency and effectiveness as distinct characteristics of ANSP performance?
A look at examples of 3 studies in these 2 dimensions reveal that every methodology is unique to the organization under investigation. In 1981, 2 researchers, Angle and Perry, measured the organizational effectiveness of the US national bus service by examining the behaviorism of organizational commitment among employees. 
In a second study, Denison and Mishra (1995) used 4 traits of organizational culture as indirect indications of effectiveness. Using 764 organizations, they observed involvement, consistency, adaptability and mission both from the employee and the management perspective. 
In a third study on US police departments of bigger states by Skogan 1976, he used linear regression analyses based upon the anatomy of the departments  to determine efficiency and the residuals to account for the effectiveness of the police departments. Where are our 
examples of studies in ANSP performance? 
You may think that there are more important issues facing your ANSP but gauging the organizational characteristics of ANSPs are essential to knowing their readiness for restructure, their capacity for  development, understanding the problems so as to identify the areas that need more or less resources and determining the level of organizational motivation.  
Recognizing the need for organizational appraisals begins with the understanding that ANSPs are not real business enterprises and that the individual perceptions of top level management can weigh heavily on the organizational characteristics of ANSPs  which can promote or stunt organizational development in the long term.  We also need to fully comprehend the ramifications associated with whether we are doing the things right -  being effective; or, whether we are efficient by doing the right things; or, whether our ANSP is both effective and efficient. Which name aptly describes your ANSP? Is it effective, efficient or both?

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