Performance indicators are not just indicators of performance

From Katja Freisteina, in a recent paper in the Journal of Comparative Policy Analysis,

Diffusing their knowledge and enhancing the potency of their ideas, international organisations like the World Bank employ indicators and other instruments that seem objective and easily accessible in any given context. Beyond producing certain kinds of knowledge and governance effects in the global sphere, the creation of new indicators can be understood as a social practice by international organisations that ensures their competence and mandate to act, for instance against poverty. Drawing on indicator research, Focauldian governmentality studies and neo-institutionalism, the article studies and compares several key examples of poverty indicators used by the World Bank to identify the effects of employing indicators on international organisations.