Performance and Analytic Narratives

I have continued thinking about performance issues raised by Craig Duncan (link), Dave Reddin and Tony Strudwick (link).

This thinking has coincided with me revisiting the literature on analytic narratives (link). One of the contributors to this literature is Margaret Levi (link). She wrote:


The narrative of analytic narratives establishes the actual and principal players, their goals, and their preferences while also illuminating the effective rules of the game, constraints, and incentives. Narrative is the story being told but as a detailed and textured account of context and process, with concern for both sequence and temporality. (2002:112)

I do monitor a range of performances in a variety of sports. For a long time now, I have been wondering about how the data lead me to a variety of institutional approaches to performance and the vectors that lead to success (or the opposite).

One of my examples is the use of Elo Ratings in a football code to contemplate cultures of success. In this first visualisation, I am keen to look at the long-term performance of teams (their class). I have chosen three teams: a gold standard consistently successful, a second near the median performance for the code, and a third trying to find its way in a very competitive world:

A second visualisation, with the same three teams looks at current form:

Both visualisations enable me to think about performance environments and allow me tointegrate the observations Craig, Dave and Tony have made in the context of narratives about performance.

In this context, I thought Margaret Levi’s conclusion was very relevant to conversations about performance in sport:


Analytic narratives involve choosing a problem or puzzle, then building a model to explicate the logic of the explanation and to elucidate the key decision points and possibilities, and finally evaluating the model through comparative statics and the testable implications the model generates. (2002:113)

I do see this puzzling as central to our conversations about performance and the opportunities we have to compare empirical events with theories about performance.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.