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Financial sustainability in Malaysian public universities: coping with or embracing change?

Suaniza Mamat (Department of Accounting, KENMS, International Islamic University Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia)
Nik Nazli Nik Ahmad (Department of Accounting, KENMS, International Islamic University Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia)
Julia Mohd Said (Department of Accounting, KENMS, International Islamic University Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia)

Journal of Public Budgeting, Accounting & Financial Management

ISSN: 1096-3367

Article publication date: 30 June 2021

Issue publication date: 15 October 2021

999

Abstract

Purpose

This paper explores the institutionalisation of a financial sustainability agenda in Malaysian public universities.

Design/methodology/approach

The study uses semi-structured interviews and document analysis. New Institutional Sociology and the institutional logics perspective are utilised to frame the study and explain findings.

Findings

The findings reveal that universities manage the conflicting academic and financial logics to co-exist to ensure legitimacy and survival. By compartmentalising the functions of key divisions and through loose coupling, universities are able to support dual logics.

Research limitations/implications

The paper provides university management and policy makers with insights into how leading universities in Malaysia cope with a financial sustainability agenda.

Originality/value

The present study documents how universities cope with and respond to government reforms and budgetary cuts in the context of a developing country, Malaysia. Most prior research in the area focuses on individual or organisational responses. This paper examines organisational-level responses but goes deeper to understand how universities, through three key divisions; bursaries, corporate strategy divisions and faculties manage to enable the multiple logics to co-exist through compartmentalisation and loose coupling.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

This paper is drawn from a research project on organisational change in higher education funded by the Ministry of Education's Fundamental Research Grant Scheme FRGS/1/2017/SS01/UIAM/01/1. The authors gratefully acknowledge this funding, the cooperation of all respondents and the research assistants. Finally, the authors are indebted to the two anonymous reviewers and the Editor for their constructive comments on an earlier draft of this paper.

Citation

Mamat, S., Nik Ahmad, N.N. and Mohd Said, J. (2021), "Financial sustainability in Malaysian public universities: coping with or embracing change?", Journal of Public Budgeting, Accounting & Financial Management, Vol. 33 No. 5, pp. 599-617. https://doi.org/10.1108/JPBAFM-09-2020-0157

Publisher

:

Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2021, Emerald Publishing Limited

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