Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date



Presented at 6th International Seminar on Urban Conservation, Recife, Brazil, March 29 -31, 2011.


There is no agreed-upon definition for heritage conservation performance, but it is possible to borrow ideas from the natural resource conservation field to inform this concept. Dimensions of performance can include economic, technical, and sociocultural and experiential indices. Because heritage conservation ostensibly benefits people as its primary goal, however, the values of most stakeholders ought to play a role in defining performance. Most of these values are subjective and represent sociocultural and personal meanings and tend to differ dramatically from the positivistic, fabric-centered value system of conservation experts. Measurement implies quantification, yet many sociocultural values are based on qualitative meanings that defy direct attempts at quantification. One solution for this predicament is to employ a sequential mixed-method approach where qualitative meanings are gathered from stakeholders and then these meanings are used to inform the development of a quantitative method, such as a survey instrument. In this way, while the qualitative meanings are not being directly “measured” as such, aspects of the phenomenon behind these meanings can be measured, quantified, and subjected to statistical techniques. A brief representative case study is presented as an example of how social science methodologies can help define and measure performance.