Use and Abuse of Indicators

  • Fiorenzo Franceschini
  • Maurizio Galetto
  • Domenico Maisano
Part of the Management for Professionals book series (MANAGPROF)


The goal of the present chapter is to introduce the reader to some criticalities concerned with indicators, which are treated in an organic way in the rest of the book. For the purpose of example, the attention is focused on several popular indicators: the HDI (Human Development Indicator), some air-quality indicators (AQI, ATMO and IQA) and the scoring indicators used for the Olympic decathlon. These indicators are analysed individually, emphasizing their qualities and drawbacks. Additionally, this chapter mentions some indicator properties that are formalized in detail in Chaps.  3 and  4.


  1. Anderson, J. O., Thundiyil, J. G., & Stolbach, A. (2012). Clearing the air: A review of the effects of particulate matter air pollution on human health. Journal of Medical Toxicology, 2, 166–175.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. ARPA – Piedmont’s Regional Agency for the Environment. (2005). Tabella dei valori massimi in Torino - gennaio 2005. ARPA environmental vigilance and control network, Turin, Italy.Google Scholar
  3. Atkinsons, A. B. (1970). On the measurement of inequality. Journal of Economic Theory, 2, 244–263.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bouyssou, D., Marchant, T., Pirlot, M., Perny, P., Tsoukiàs, A., & Vincke, P. (2000). Evaluation and decision Models: A critical perspectives. Boston: Kluwer Academic Publishers.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Franceschini, F., Galetto, M., & Maisano, D. (2005). A short survey on air quality indicators: Properties, use, and (mis)use. Management of Environmental Quality: An International Journal, 16(5), 490–504.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Hoek, G., Brunekreef, B., Goldbohm, S., Fischer, P., & Van Den Brandt, P. A. (2003). Cardiopulmonary mortality and air pollution. The Lancet, 362(9384), 587.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. IAAF (International Association of Athletics Federations). (2017). Scoring tables. Retrieved September 2018, from
  8. Kampa, M., & Castanas, E. (2008). Human health effects of air pollution. Environmental Pollution, 151(2), 362–367.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Klugman, J., Rodríguez, F., & Choi, H. J. (2011). The HDI 2010: New controversies, old critiques. The Journal of Economic Inequality, 9(2), 249–288.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Lave, L. B., & Seskin, E. P. (2013). Air pollution and human health. New York: RFF Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Lins, M. P. E., Gomes, E. G., Soares De Mello, J. C. B., & Soares De Mello, A. J. R. (2003). Olympic ranking based on a zero sum gains DEA model. European Journal of Operational Research, 148(2), 85–95.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Maisano, D., Botta, A., & Franceschini, F. (2016). On the rating system in alpine skiing racing: Criticism and new proposals. Proceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part P: Journal of Sports Engineering and Technology, 230(4), 253–263.Google Scholar
  13. Ministère de l’écologie et du développement durable. (2004). Arrêté du 22 julliet 2004 relatif aux indices de la qualité de l’air. Journal official de la Rèpublique Française, France.Google Scholar
  14. Ministero dell’ambiente e della tutela del territorio. (2002). Decreto 2 aprile 2002 n. 60, Recepimento della direttiva 1999/30/CE del Consiglio del 22 aprile 1999 concernente i valori limite di qualità dell’aria ambiente per il biossido di zolfo, il biossido di azoto, gli ossidi di azoto, le particelle e il piombo e della direttiva 2000/69/CE relativa ai valori limite di qualità dell’aria ambiente per il benzene ed il monossido di carbonio, Gazzetta Ufficiale n 87 del 13 Aprile 2002, Roma.Google Scholar
  15. Piedmont Regional Law 43/2000. (2000). Disposizioni per la tutela dell’ambiente in materia di inquinamento atmosferico. Prima attuazione del Piano regionale per il risanamento e la tutela della qualità dell’aria. Piedmont Regional Council, Turin, Italy. Retrieved September 2018, from
  16. Rapport, D. J., Howard, J., Lannigan, R., & Mccauley, W. (2003). Linking health and ecology in the medical curriculum. Environment International, 29(2–3), 353–358.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Ritz, B., Yu, F., Fruin, S., Chapa, G., Shaw, G. M., & Harris, J. A. (2002). Ambient air pollution and risk of birth defects in Southern California. American Journal of Epidemiology, 155(1), 17–25.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Roy, B. (1993). Decision science or decision-aid science. European Journal of Operational Research, 66, 184–204.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Roy, B. (1996). Multicriteria methodology for decision aiding. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Sunyer, J., Basagana, X., Belmonte, J., & Anto, J. M. (2002). Effect of nitrogen dioxide and ozone on the risk of dying in patients with severe asthma. Thorax – International Journal of Respiratory Medicine, 57(8), 687–693.Google Scholar
  21. Tankersley, C. G., Georgakopoulos, D., Tang, W. Y., Abston, E., Bierman, A., & Sborz, N. (2012). Effects of ozone and particulate matter on cardiac mechanics: Role of the atrial natriuretic peptide gene. Toxicological Sciences, 131(1), 95–107.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. U.S. EPA (Environmental Protection Agency). (1999). Guideline for reporting of daily air quality – Air Quality Index. EPA-454/R-99-010, North Carolina.Google Scholar
  23. U.S. EPA (Environmental Protection Agency). (2006). Guideline for reporting of daily air quality – Air Quality Index. EPA-454/B-06-001, North Carolina.Google Scholar
  24. U.S. EPA (Environmental Protection Agency). (2016). Technical assistance document for the reporting of daily air-quality index (AQI). EPA-454/B-16-002, North Carolina.Google Scholar
  25. UNDP (United Nations Development Programme). (1990). Human development report 1990. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  26. UNDP (United Nations Development Programme). (1997). Human Development Report 1997. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  27. UNDP (United Nations Development Programme). (2003). Human Development Report 2003. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  28. UNDP (United Nations Development Programme). (2018). Human Development Report 2016. Report Technical Notes, New York. Retrieved September 2018, from
  29. Vansnick, J. C. (1986). De Borda et Condorcet à l’aggregation Multicritere. Ricerca Operativa, 40, 7–44.Google Scholar
  30. Vincke, P. (1992). Multi-criteria decision aid. New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  31. Yang, I. A., Holz, O., Jörres, R. A., Magnussen, H., Barton, S. J., Rodríguez, S., Cakebread, J. A., Holloway, J. W., & Holgate, S. T. (2005). Association of tumor necrosis factor – Polymorphisms and ozone-induced change in lung function. American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, 171, 171–176.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Zarnowsky, F. (1989). The decathlon – A colourful history of track and field’s most challenging event. Champaign: Leisure Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Fiorenzo Franceschini
    • 1
  • Maurizio Galetto
    • 1
  • Domenico Maisano
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Management and Production Engineering (DIGEP)Politecnico di TorinoTurinItaly

Personalised recommendations