Performance Management in Universities


Speaker:Bob Scrapens, University of Manchester
Date: Wednesday 16 May 2012
Time: 14.00
Location: TR02 Buidling One

Further details

The measurement of research and teaching performance is increasingly common within universities, driven probably by the rise of New Public Management (NPM). Although changing over time and varying from country to country, NPM involves the use of private sector methods in the public sector. Traditionally, performance measurement in universities has had a developmental role – helping individuals to improve their (future) performance. However, the new systems seem more judgemental – i.e., seeking to quantitatively evaluate (past) performance. 
We study performance measurement in two Accounting and Finance groups – one in the Netherlands and one in the UK. In both we see an increasing use of judgemental forms of performance evaluation and, in particular, the use of more quantitative performance measures. The use of these more judgemental quantitative systems is seen to have various effects. Although these systems emphasise objective quantitative measures, they relocate subjectivities (usually at a greater distance from the subject), rather than remove them. This creates uncertainty and anxiety about how the systems are used. There is a danger that the new systems could inhibit creativity in teaching and limit contributions to the world outside the university. Furthermore, they could damage creativity and innovation in accounting research – as researchers play safe in getting the publications they need. As we are both researchers and practitioners in this area, we should be challenging these trends and pointing to the dangers for research (and teaching) in our field.