The purpose of this paper is to identify and evaluate the role and influence played by the discipline of accounting through its association with the multiple logics of government reforms to transform the public tertiary education sector in New Zealand.
The study adopts a case study approach utilising multiple data collection methods. Neo-institutional theory provides an insightful complement to neo-liberalism and enhances the understanding of institutional logics driving government reforms and the transformation of public tertiary institutions.
The findings reveal that accounting has become a powerful conduit for the exercise of the neo-liberalism reforms by government and implemented by managerial control over public tertiary education institutions.
By addressing a gap in the literature, the paper shows how political and economic neo-liberal policies have been implemented in tertiary education with the discipline of accounting being adopted as a prime driver of these reforms. The paper has significant implications for educational management, academics and learners in understanding how and why the inherent nature, objectives and processes of the overall educational experience have undergone a radical reformation.
New Zealand is one of the first countries to implement these educational reforms and adopted “accounting technologies” to reduce costs and improve performance. But the reality has often been very different. Most of the government’s original objectives have not been fulfilled and the reforms have been costly for the academic profession. This paper provides a valuable source of learning for academics, managers and politicians.
The authors are grateful for comments and feedback received by Professor Lee Parker, Professor Prem Sikka and participants at the Critical Perspectives on Accounting Conference, Toronto, July 2014.
Narayan, A. and Stittle, J. (2018), "The role of accounting in transforming public tertiary institutions in New Zealand", Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, Vol. 31 No. 2, pp. 503-530. https://doi.org/10.1108/AAAJ-09-2016-2722Download as .RIS
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