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Article
Publication date: 4 May 2020

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

This paper explores the impact of contemporary calculative practices, termed “accountingisation”, on Australian accounting academics' values. Also, it seeks to understand…

Abstract

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.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 33 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

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Article
Publication date: 18 September 2020

Ann Martin-Sardesai, James Guthrie AM and Lee Parker

As accounting academics, the authors know that performance measurement is well-trodden ground in the literature. Yet rarely have they turned their gaze inwards to examine…

Abstract

Purpose

As accounting academics, the authors know that performance measurement is well-trodden ground in the literature. Yet rarely have they turned their gaze inwards to examine the performance controls which they are subject to in the own everyday working life. Over the past 40 years, the rise of the New Public Management paradigm and neoliberalism has intensified changes in the way universities, disciplines and individual academics justify the quality of their work. This paper aims to explore the impact of accountingisation on the field and the Australian public sector higher education sector.

Design/methodology/approach

The perceptions of accounting academics in Australia’s 37 business faculties and schools were collected via an online survey. Additionally, a document analysis of annual reports, internal reports, strategy documents and other confidential material were also used.

Findings

The changes have included the use of corporate and individual research metrics aimed at increasing institutional status, brand reputation and revenue generation. These changes have transformed business schools and universities into commercial enterprises and commoditised education. What this analysis demonstrates is the apparent relationship between various government agendas, the commercialisation of universities and the distortion of the research activities by individual academics. For increased profits and efficiencies, individual scholars have paid the highest price.

Practical implications

If the accounting discipline is to be sustainable in the long term, business schools in Australia must reconfigure their performance measurement systems.

Originality/value

To date, research on “accountingisation” has previously been primarily conducted in the health and social services sectors. This research raises rarely heard voices to expose the actual social and human costs of accountingisation in Australia’s higher education sector.

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Article
Publication date: 14 October 2021

Garry D. Carnegie, Ann Martin-Sardesai, Lisa Marini and James Guthrie AM

The Australian higher education sector faces severe risks from the consequences of COVID-19. This paper aims to explore these risks, their immediate impacts and the likely…

Abstract

Purpose

The Australian higher education sector faces severe risks from the consequences of COVID-19. This paper aims to explore these risks, their immediate impacts and the likely future impacts. The authors specifically focus on the institutional financial and social risks arising from the global pandemic.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors collect data using the 2019 annual reports of the 37 Australian public universities and relevant media contributions. The findings of identified sector change are interpreted through Laughlin’s organisational change diagnosis.

Findings

The sector confronts significant financial and social risks because of its over-reliance on income from fee-paying onshore overseas students resulting in universities primarily undertaking morphostatic changes. These risks include job losses, changing employment conditions, mental health issues for students, scholars, other staff, including casual staff, online learning shortfalls and the student expectations of their university experience. The study reveals how many of these risks are the inevitable consequence of the “accountingisation” of Australian public universities.

Practical implications

Despite material exposure, the universities provide only limited disclosure of the extent of the risks associated with increasing dependence on overseas student fees to 31 December 2019. The analysis highlights fake accountability and distorted transparency to users of audited financial statements – a major limitation of university annual reports.

Originality/value

Research on the Australian higher education sector has mainly focussed on the impact of policies and changes. The public disclosure of critical risks taken by these universities are now addressed.

Details

Meditari Accountancy Research, vol. ahead-of-print no. ahead-of-print
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2049-372X

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Article
Publication date: 15 June 2020

Brendan Thomas O'Connell, Paul De Lange, Ann Martin-Sardesai and Gloria Agyemang

The purpose of this paper is to examine prominent issues and knowledge contributions from research exploring measurement and assessment of accounting research, impact and…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to examine prominent issues and knowledge contributions from research exploring measurement and assessment of accounting research, impact and engagement. This paper also provides an overview of the other papers presented in this AAAJ Special Issue and draws from their findings to scope out future impactful research opportunities in this area.

Design/methodology/approach

Consists of a review and examination of the prior literature and the other papers published in this AAAJ Special Issue.

Findings

The paper identifies and summarises three key research themes in the extant literature: research productivity of accounting academics; the rise of the “Corporate University” and commodification of research; and, the benefits and limitations of Research Assessment Exercises. It draws upon work within these research themes to set out four broad areas for future impactful research.

Research limitations/implications

The value of this paper rests with collating and synthesising several important research themes on the nature and impact of measurement and assessment of accounting research, impact and engagement, and in prompting future extensions of this work through setting out areas for further innovative research in the area.

Practical implications

The research examined in this paper and the future research avenues proposed are highly relevant to university academics, administrators and regulators/policymakers. They also offer important insights into matters of accounting measurement, accountability, and control more generally.

Originality/value

This paper adds to vibrant existing streams of research in the area by bringing together authors from different areas of accounting research for this AAAJ Special Issue. In scoping out an agenda for impactful research in the nature and impact of measurement and assessment of accounting research, impact and engagement, this paper also draws attention to underexplored issues pertaining to areas such as the “lived experience” of academics in the corporatised university and envisioning what a future “optimal” system of measurement and assessment of research quality might look like?

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 33 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 8 January 2018

Ann Martin-Sardesai and James Guthrie

The purpose of this paper is to examine the perceptions of academic human capital (HC) towards a university’s research performance measurement system (PMS), in response to…

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to examine the perceptions of academic human capital (HC) towards a university’s research performance measurement system (PMS), in response to a national research assessment exercise (RAE).

Design/methodology/approach

This paper draws on a subset of the data from a large mixed method case study research project about the impact of ERA on an Australian public sector university.

Findings

The findings reveal that the research PMSs were designed, implemented and used as a tool to measure and manage the research performance of HC within the university. The case study university performed well in the RAE. However, this also led to several unintended consequences in the form of fear and anxiety, gaming and strategic initiatives, a focus on quantity and not the quality of research, and increased workload, which led to a loss in the stock of HC.

Practical implications

This empirical evidence can inform governments and policy makers of the unintended consequences of government research evaluations on academic HC. University managers could improve the design of HC management systems by not only measuring academic HC performance, but also providing training and resources to enhance, support and maintain the overall well-being of academics.

Originality/value

This study provides insights regarding the connection between a university’s PMS and academic HC and contributes to the academic literature on intellectual capital and PMSs.

Details

Journal of Intellectual Capital, vol. 19 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1469-1930

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Article
Publication date: 29 April 2021

Garry D. Carnegie, James Guthrie and Ann Martin-Sardesai

The purpose of this study is to examine the COVID-19 pandemic risk disclosures in a sample of annual reports of Australian public universities. These universities rely…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this study is to examine the COVID-19 pandemic risk disclosures in a sample of annual reports of Australian public universities. These universities rely heavily on fee-paying onshore overseas students. Analysing these risk disclosures is essential to understanding the COVID-19 crisis and the implications for organisational change.

Design/methodology/approach

Document analysis and content analysis of the 2019 annual reports of all Victorian public universities were undertaken to identify the disclosure of COVID-19 risk impacts. Applying Laughlin's Habermasian insights of change, the study explores the pathways of change adopted by universities to overcome the risk impacts. However, financial risk disclosures about income from this source were virtually non-existent.

Findings

Any risk associated with COVID-19 disclosed was minimal in a qualitative, neutral and constant format. The quality of disclosures was low. Media statements, however, pointed to significant income loss and suggested a strategy of substantial cost-cutting, including employee redundancies, which we identified as morphostatic changes of universities to overcome the risk impacts.

Research limitations/implications

The study reveals the risk associated with sector's aggressive growth strategy, jeopardising their financial viability and quality of teaching and research.

Practical implications

The findings provide insights to the Australian higher education sector. The low quality of external risk disclosures of these universities suggests an urgent need for transformation.

Originality/value

Australian public universities play a crucial role in society. This role will be diminished by a failure to disclose and manage significant risks adequately.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. ahead-of-print no. ahead-of-print
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

Keywords

Content available
Article
Publication date: 19 September 2019

Ann Martin-Sardesai and Lyn Daff

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360

Abstract

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 32 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

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Article
Publication date: 20 August 2020

Jane Andrew, Max Baker, James Guthrie and Ann Martin-Sardesai

This paper explores how neoliberalism restrains the ability of governments to respond to crises through budgetary action. It examines the immediate budgetary responses to…

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5131

Abstract

Purpose

This paper explores how neoliberalism restrains the ability of governments to respond to crises through budgetary action. It examines the immediate budgetary responses to the COVID-19 pandemic by the Australian government and explores how the conditions created by prior neoliberal policies have limited these responses.

Design/methodology/approach

A review and examination of the prior literature on public budgeting and new public management are provided. The idea of a “neoliberal straitjacket” is used to frame the current budgetary and economic situation in Australia.

Findings

The paper examines the chronology of Australia's budgetary responses to the economic and health crisis created by COVID-19. These responses have taken the form of tax breaks and a temporary payment scheme for individuals made unemployed by the pandemic.

Practical implications

The insights gained from this paper may help with future policy developments and promote future research on similar crises.

Originality/value

The analysis of Australia's policies in dealing with the pandemic may offer insights for other countries struggling to cope with the fiscal consequences of COVID-19.

Details

Journal of Public Budgeting, Accounting & Financial Management, vol. 32 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1096-3367

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Article
Publication date: 14 May 2018

Amy C. Reynolds, Catherine O’Mullan, Anja Pabel, Ann Martin-Sardesai, Stephanie Alley, Susan Richardson, Linda Colley, Jacquelin Bousie and Janya McCalman

In the highly gendered academic sector, womens’ high participation rates have not translated into equal career progression with men. Existing literature suggests that…

Abstract

Purpose

In the highly gendered academic sector, womens’ high participation rates have not translated into equal career progression with men. Existing literature suggests that early career publication success is a good indicator of long-term publication success. This research is intended to provide a better understanding of whether the notions of success espoused by neo-liberal universities align with the subjective measures of what constitutes academic success for women ECRs (early career researchers).

Design/methodology/approach

The study examines the perceptions of nine successful women ECRs at an Australian university. It uses collaborative autoethnography with thematic analysis of participants’ self-reflective narratives on being a successful ECR.

Findings

Five themes were identified. One focussed on objective academic success, which included publications, grants and citations. The other four themes – living a balanced life, making a difference, labour of love and freedom and flexibility – offered more subjective views of success. These included: research making a contribution to society, undertaking research they are passionate about, having autonomy in their role and achieving work-life balance.

Practical implications

The findings demonstrate that women define success in broader terms than neo-liberal universities, and future studies should consider these divergent definitions. Universities committed to equality should understand differences in how women may approach career progress and incorporate this into support processes and in alignment of individual and university goals.

Originality/value

This research offers unique insights into the experience of post-doctoral employment for women in the academic environment and the factors influencing their success in this early career phase.

Details

Studies in Graduate and Postdoctoral Education, vol. 9 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2398-4686

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Article
Publication date: 7 November 2016

Ann Martin-Sardesai

This study aims to explore how management control systems (MCS) compliment institutional entrepreneurship. It provides a case illustration of how the Vice Chancellor (VC…

Abstract

Purpose

This study aims to explore how management control systems (MCS) compliment institutional entrepreneurship. It provides a case illustration of how the Vice Chancellor (VC) as an institutional entrepreneur used MCS to bring about a change in an Australian public sector university in anticipation of an externally imposed research assessment exercise.

Design/methodology/approach

This case study gathered qualitative data through key informant interviews (including deputy VCs, research managers, executive deans and heads of departments) and a review of university and other electronic policy-related documents.

Findings

The study contributes to an understanding of the external environment that drives university leaders to become institutional entrepreneurs, and what they precisely do to facilitate the internal dynamic change in line with political demands.

Research limitations/implications

Being a single case study, care should be taken in generalizing the findings. However, it raises significant issues that deserve further attention, for example, the impact of change on the working life of academics.

Practical implications

The research study identifies the proposed imposition of a research assessment exercise as an enabling condition under which an institutional entrepreneur could promote and activate a new vision. It provides useful insights for other universities operating in the rapidly changing environment.

Originality/value

In identifying the way institutional entrepreneurs bring about change by promoting a vision and operationalizing it through MCS, the research study extends literature on institutional entrepreneurship MCS and organizational change.

Details

Pacific Accounting Review, vol. 28 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0114-0582

Keywords

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