The rise and decline of a mandatory accountability measure

Ted Watts, Vicki Baard, Carol J. McNair

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference proceeding contributionpeer-review


During the late 1980s and early 1990s the higher education sector in Australia underwent tumultuous amalgamations and restructuring to join the Unified National System of higher education. This required the adoption of new, or rediscovered, management tools. This paper focuses on one of these tools, performance indicators, and their adoption, and later decline, as a government mandated measure for improving reported accountability through publication in university annual reports. Drawing on institutional theory we argue that performance indicators were adopted as a symbolic gesture to satisfy the need for external legitimacy and university⿿s accountability. Also, as universities were coerced into adoption, the perceived necessity to report performance indicators in annual report was discontinued when this pressure was relaxed. This is supported by a decline of almost 50 percent in the reporting of performance indicators in university annual reports in the last 10 years.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPMA Conference
Place of PublicationDunedin, New Zealand
PublisherUniversity of Otago
Number of pages20
ISBN (Print)9781877156302
Publication statusPublished - 2009
EventPerformance Management Association Conference - Dunedin, New Zealand
Duration: 14 Apr 200917 Apr 2009


ConferencePerformance Management Association Conference
CityDunedin, New Zealand


  • performance indicators
  • organizational change
  • accountability
  • institutional theory
  • legitimacy


Dive into the research topics of 'The rise and decline of a mandatory accountability measure'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this