Performance Assessment and Social research

A.Y. 2020/2021
9
Max ECTS
60
Overall hours
SSD
SECS-P/07 SPS/07
Language
Italian
Learning objectives
The course aims to provide knowledge and application tools to carry out empirical research, analyse and critically evaluate research results, evaluate public administration results and interact with research institutes and agencies with methodological expertise.
Students will be introduced to the logic that guides the design, implementation and critical analysis of empirical research and the results evaluation processes.
The programme is divided into three modules: the first two modules deal with the acquisition of the language of social research, with an overview of the main methods and techniques of social research, including polls and surveys, as well as qualitative research methods (discursive interviews, focus groups and ethnography) and mixed methods. These methods and techniques are presented with a focus on their use in the quantitative and qualitative evaluation of interventions, services and policies. The third module provides an in-depth study of the methods and tools for examining evaluation and control systems in public administrations, from an economic and business perspective. In particular, it examines some of the main types of controls and assessments commonly used in the Italian public administration; in addition, it also analyses the organizational and managerial implications connected to the workings of the evaluation and control systems in public companies.
Expected learning outcomes
At the end of the course students will be able to:
- recognize and classify the conceptual devices and tools used in the multi-faceted fields of the epistemology of the social sciences and methodology of social research, and identify them in different disciplines and approaches: philosophy, sociology, politics, economics, psychology, pedagogy, etc.
- rework ethical problems and the moral dilemmas encountered when conducting empirical research;
- identify and interpret the evaluation systems currently in use in the Italian public administration, how they have evolved and the reasons hindering-preventing their development;
- critically compare the different methodologies and alternative theories-practices for conducting empirical research;
- distinguish and systemically analyse the main dimensions of an evaluation and control system;
- examine, from an economic and business perspective, the workings of an assessment and control system in the public sphere.
Course syllabus and organization

Single session

Responsible
Lesson period
First trimester
Lesson form
The lessons will be held on the Microsoft Teams platform and can be followed in real time on the basis of the first term timetable. The lessons will also be recorded and put on the platform so that the students can also follow them in their own time.
Syllabus and teaching resources
There will be no changes to the syllabus or teaching resources.
Assessment methods and criteria
The exam will be carried out orally, using the Microsoft Teams platform. If the rules so permit, the exam can be carried out in presence, again in oral form.
The written test:
- checks that students have achieved all the knowledge and understanding objectives;
- assesses students' applied knowledge and skills (e.g., discussing a situation, a case study or a control system, setting out a research design)
- tests students' independent reasoning and judgment abilities.
The exam also aims to understand students' oral communication skills, especially in relation to the use of specific language related to the evaluation of results in the public sphere and social research.
Should the social distancing rules so permit, some attendance activities will be scheduled. Participation in these activities will be on a voluntary basis and will have no bearing on the students' final marks.
Course syllabus
In the first two modules, students acquire the tools to set out a research design in line with the research question to be answered, to analyse and critically evaluate the results of empirical research and to interact with research institutes and agencies with methodological competence.
The syllabus deals with the following topics:
- The social research paradigm
- Primary and secondary research designs
- Quantitative and qualitative research: two different approaches
- Quantitative research: sample surveys, experiments and quasi-experiments, secondary analysis
- Qualitative research: participatory observations, discursive interviews, focus groups
- Mixed methods, big data and open data, digital methods
- Errors in the various research stages
The third module provides business methods and tools for examining evaluation and control systems in public administrations. Particularly, the syllabus:
· analyses some of the main types of controls and assessments commonly used in the Italian public administration;
· systemically analyses the main dimensions of an evaluation and control system;
· analyses the organizational and managerial implications related to the workings of the evaluation and control systems in public administrations.
Prerequisites for admission
For the first and second modules, knowledge about the key notions of social research methodology is required.
For the third module, knowledge about elements of business administration in reference to the Public Administration or notions of Public Management is required.
Teaching methods
All three modules will alternate teacher-led lessons with case-study discussion activities in order to promote the development of knowledge application skills. The material presented in the lessons and additional material will be available on the course website on the Ariel platform.
Teaching Resources
The textbooks for the first and second modules are:
Corbetta, P. (2014) La ricerca sociale: metodologia e tecniche. Vol. I. I paradigmi di riferimento, il Mulino.
Corbetta, P. (2014) La ricerca sociale: metodologia e tecniche. Vol. II. Le tecniche quantitative, il Mulino.
Cardano, M. and Ortalda F. (2016) Metodologia della ricerca psicosociale, UTET (only chs. 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 12, 13).
Third module: The materials are available at the "Segreteria Didattica" office in the Dipartimento di Economia, Management e Metodi Quantitativi (DEMM) - Università degli Studi di Milano, during office hours only.
Method - methodological readings
Rebora, G. (2007) "Una traccia per l'analisi dei sistemi di controllo in diversi contesti aziendali". In Rebora, G. (ed.) La crisi dei controlli: imprese e istituzioni a confronto (pp. 15-22). Milan: Pearson Education Italia.
Pollitt, C. (2009) "Bureaucracies Remember, Post-bureaucratic Organizations Forget?", Public Administration, vol. 87, no. 2, pp. 198-218.
Control experiences - control experiences in central administrations and the Corte dei Conti
Turri, M. (2008) "Il controllo successivo sulla gestione della corte dei conti: esame di un referto (la gestione dell'emergenza rifiuti effettuata dai commissari del governo) in ottica economico aziendale", Rivista della Corte dei Conti, no. 1/2008.
Barbato, G. and Turri, M. (2015) "Il pluralismo teorico per esaminare la valutazione della performance nei ministeri italiani", Liuc Papers No. 284.
Barbato G., Salvadori, A. and Turri, M. (2018) "There's a lid for every pot! The relationship between performance measurement and administrative activities in Italian ministries". Cogent Business & Management (2018), 5: 1527965 https://doi.org/10.1080/23311975.2018.1527965.
Control failures - analysis of the causes of control system failures
Minelli, E., Rebora, G. and Turri, M. (2009) "Why do controls fail? Results of an Italian survey", Critical Perspectives on Accounting 20 (2009) 933-943, DOI 10.1016/j.cpa.2009.04.002.
Assessment methods and Criteria
The exam is identical for attending and non-attending students.
The exam consists of a written test with two sections, the first linked to the modules taught by Prof. Guglielmi (6 credits) and the second to the module taught by Prof. Turri (3 credits). In detail:
- A) one section with 20 multiple-choice questions + 1 open question (for Prof. Guglielmi's two modules)
- B) one section with 1 open question (for Prof. Turri's module).
The entire exam counts for 9 credits.
The duration of the entire test is 60 minutes (40 min for section A and 20 min for section B).
To pass the exam, students must pass both sections. If students fail one section of the paper, the whole exam must be repeated. The final mark will be given by the weighted average of the results of the two sections. The weighting is based on the number of credits for each module.
The written test:
- checks that students have achieved all the knowledge and understanding objectives;
- assesses students' applied knowledge and skills (e.g., discussing a situation, a case study or a control system, setting out a research design)
- tests students' independent reasoning and judgment abilities.
The exam also aims to understand students' written communication skills, especially in relation to the use of specific language related to the evaluation of results in the public sphere and social research.
In the first exam session after the end of the course, attending students may take an oral exam in which they present work that they have written on their own. This work will set out the research design for a research question set by the lecturer (Prof. Guglielmi's module). This piece of work carries a bonus of up to 2 points which will be added to the mark obtained in section A of the written exam (first two modules, Prof. Guglielmi, 6 credits). This oral exam checks the knowledge and applied understanding of social research methodological tools.
SECS-P/07 - BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION AND ACCOUNTING STUDIES - University credits: 3
SPS/07 - GENERAL SOCIOLOGY - University credits: 6
Lessons: 60 hours