PurposeThe purpose of this study is to analyse how academic staff cope with the new culture of performance measurement and assessment in universities. In particular, the study aims to shed light on how external pressures related to measurement of research performance are translated into organisational and individual academic responses within the university and the extent to which these responses are related specifically to the operational features of performance measurement systems (PMS).Design/methodology/approachThe study is based on a case study conducted in an Italian public university and based on interviews with a cross-disciplinary sample of faculty members.FindingsThe study provides insights into how linking financial incentives and career progression to research performance metrics at the system and organisational levels may have important reorientation effects on individual behaviours and epistemic consequences for the academic work.Research limitations/implicationsThe study is based on interviews, so one limitation is related to the risk of researcher and interviewee personal bias. Moreover, this study is focused on one single case of a specific university setting, which cannot be fully representative of the experiences of others.Originality/valueThe study contributes to the literature on management accounting by exploring the factors that might explain why the unintended effects of PMS on academics’ behaviour reported by several studies might occur. From a practitioner’s point of view, it shows features of PMS that may produce unintended effects on academic activities. It also highlights the need to rethink PMS for the evaluation of university performance through the involvement of different stakeholders.
Qualitative Research in Accounting & Management – Emerald Publishing
Published: Jan 20, 2020
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