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Performance measurement in a transitional economy: unfolding a case of KPIs

Shahzad Uddin (Essex Business School, University of Essex, Colchester, UK)
Boris Popesko (Tomas Bata University in Zlin, Zlín, Czech Republic)
Šárka Papadaki (Tomas Bata University in Zlin, Zlín, Czech Republic)
Jaroslav Wagner (University of Economics and Business, Prague, Czech Republic)

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal

ISSN: 0951-3574

Article publication date: 28 December 2020

Issue publication date: 1 March 2021



The purpose of this paper aims to make contributions to the debate on “performance measurement in practice” focussing on how organisational participants respond to the “new regime” of key performance indicators (KPIs) and whether KPIs materialise as intended in a transitional economy.


Inspired by the epistemological instruction of Schatzki's practice theory, this paper draws on qualitative data collected through face-to-face interviews, observations and documentary analysis of a single organisation.


KPIs were introduced at PK (a manufacturing concern in Czech Republic) but widely seen as contradictory, inconsequential, top-down and unrealistic. These lead organisational participants to adopt a pragmatic approach towards PM embracing KPIs' subjective assessment and manipulation, common sense or doing the job as given, and superficial compliance (symbolism).

Research limitations/implications

The paper would be interesting to researchers because of its explanation of performance measurement practice in a distinct empirical setting, for its application of a practice theory inspired by Schatzki, and for inspiring new research agendas in transitional economies.

Practical implications

The paper recommends the mobilisation of artefacts, such as various forms of bottom-up discussions, to encourage interactions between organisational members and influence individual beliefs and practical understandings of the intended managerial projects.


The paper has focussed on “organisations of practice” to unravel the “doings” of organisational participants to explore the micro-processes of PM which otherwise would have been ignored. These “doings” and “sayings”, linked by pools of understanding, rules or instructions, and a teleoaffective structure, enabled the authors to unmask inherent tensions and contradictions in a new regime of performance measures such as KPIs.



This paper is one of the research outputs of the project GA 17-13518S/P403 “Determinants of budgeting and performance measurement systems design and impact of these systems on organizational behavior and organizational performance” registered at Czech Science Foundation.


Uddin, S., Popesko, B., Papadaki, Š. and Wagner, J. (2021), "Performance measurement in a transitional economy: unfolding a case of KPIs", Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, Vol. 34 No. 2, pp. 370-396.



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