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Managerial attitudes towards the incompleteness of performance measurement systems

Syrus Islam (Auckland University of Technology, Aukland, New Zealand)
Ralph Adler (Department of Accountancy and Finance, University of Otago Dunedin, New Zealand)
Deryl Northcott (Auckland University of Technology, Aukland, New Zealand)

Qualitative Research in Accounting & Management

ISSN: 1176-6093

Article publication date: 29 December 2017

Issue publication date: 18 April 2018




Performance measurement systems (PMSs) are at the heart of most organisations. The aim of this study is to examine the attitudes of top-level managers towards the incompleteness of PMSs.


This paper draws on an in-depth field study conducted in an energy and environmental services provider based in New Zealand. The data, which were obtained from 20 semi-structured interviews, were triangulated against on-site observations and company documents.


The findings suggest that whether the incompleteness of a PMS is considered problematic or non-problematic depends on the role that the PMS plays in implementing a firm’s strategy. The authors show that when the PMS is mainly used to trigger improvement activities on and around strategic objectives and managers perceive adequate improvement activities to exist, then they consider the incompleteness of the PMS in relation to these strategic objectives to be non-problematic.


This study contributes to the nascent literature on managerial attitudes towards the incompleteness of PMSs by identifying conditions under which the incompleteness is considered problematic or non-problematic. The authors also contribute to the literature on the association between design qualities of PMSs and firm performance by suggesting that poor design qualities of a PMS (such as incompleteness) may not always translate into poor firm performance.



Islam, S., Adler, R. and Northcott, D. (2018), "Managerial attitudes towards the incompleteness of performance measurement systems", Qualitative Research in Accounting & Management, Vol. 15 No. 1, pp. 84-103.



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