Human capital loss in an academic performance measurement system

Ann Martin-Sardesai, James Guthrie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose The purpose of this paper is to examine the perceptions of academic human capital (HC) towards a university’s research performance measurement system (PMS), in response to a national research assessment exercise (RAE).
Design/methodology/approach This paper draws on a subset of the data from a large mixed method case study research project about the impact of ERA on an Australian public sector university.
Findings The findings reveal that the research PMSs were designed, implemented and used as a tool to measure and manage the research performance of HC within the university. The case study university performed well in the RAE. However, this also led to several unintended consequences in the form of fear and anxiety, gaming and strategic initiatives, a focus on quantity and not the quality of research, and increased workload, which led to a loss in the stock of HC.
Practical implications This empirical evidence can inform governments and policy makers of the unintended consequences of government research evaluations on academic HC. University managers could improve the design of HC management systems by not only measuring academic HC performance, but also providing training and resources to enhance, support and maintain the overall well-being of academics.
Originality/value This study provides insights regarding the connection between a university’s PMS and academic HC and contributes to the academic literature on intellectual capital and PMSs.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)53-70
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Intellectual Capital
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • Performance measurement systems
  • Academics
  • Australian higher education sector
  • Academic human capital
  • Human capital management systems


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