What you see depends on where you look: performance measurement of Australian accounting academics

Ann Martin-Sardesai*, James Guthrie, Basil P. Tucker

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: This paper explores the impact of contemporary calculative practices, termed “accountingisation”, on Australian accounting academics' values. Also, it seeks to understand the rationale underlying the development of various university performance measurement systems (PMSs), and their implementation and evaluation. 

Design/methodology/approach: A case study approach uses accounting academics' responses to an online survey and also semi-structured interviews with senior research-related leaders in a group of Australian universities. This is supplemented by document analysis. A narrative story-telling approach explores and presents the combined data observations, over the period 2010–2018, of two characters: a “typical” accounting academic and a “typical” vice-chancellor.

Findings: The study contributes to the literature on PMSs in understanding “accountingisation”, the rationale behind the development, implementation and evaluation of performance metrics by senior management and its impact on accounting academics. It juxtaposes and unpacks the complexities and nuances of PMSs and provides empirical evidence by highlighting the perceptions of both the Australian accounting academics and senior university management. The findings demonstrate a level of discontent among accounting academics in reconciling the expectations of increased “accountingisation” within university PMSs. These are juxtaposed against the views of senior university leaders who are influential in determining PMSs.

Originality/value: This paper is novel in considering the implications of “accountingisation” in a contemporary setting, focusing on accounting academics, values and individual PMSs within business schools.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1193-1218
Number of pages26
JournalAccounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal
Issue number6
Early online date30 Apr 2020
Publication statusPublished - 17 Aug 2020


  • Accounting academics
  • Accountingisation
  • Australian higher education sector
  • Excellence in Research Australia
  • Performance measurement systems


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