Aseeri, A. and Broad, M.J.
Enablers and limiters of measuring performance: a grounded theory study of Saudi universities , Southampton, UK University of Southampton
(Discussion Papers in Centre for Research in Accounting, Accountability and Governance, CRAAG-09-02).
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In recent years, the development of management control systems and performance measurement in particular within higher education institutions has been a major focus of policy makers and academics. Recent studies have, for example, attempted to provide an objective framework for performance of academic administration (Dorweiler, and Yakhou, 2005), they have examined how private sector performance management techniques could be applied to higher education (Chen et al., 2006, Umashankar and Dutta, 2007), they have tested the usefulness of performance management for universities in developing countries (Waal, 2007) and investigated the relationship between strategy, accounting and performance management in UK Higher Education (Broad et al., 2007).
This paper reflects on the use of performance measurement systems within two Saudi government universities. It has become apparent that government universities within Saudi Arabia follow similar rules and regulations, yet the manner in which they have operationalised their internal performance measurement systems is very different. This paper is concerned with developing an understanding of the thinking, perciption and use of performance measures in a Saudi university context. This research uses an interpretive grounded theory approach (Strauss and Corbin, 1998) to generate a theory which is grounded in data obtained during the study. It particularly focuses on the actions, interactions and processes of those involved and suggests that there are enablers and limiters of performance management, which operate at organisational and individual levels. Data was collected through face to face semi-structured interviews with over fifty administrators and academics within the two universities. The data was analysed using the coding structures advocated by Strauss and Corbin (1998) to develop a contextualised theory which helps understand the complexities of performance management within the universities studied.
Keywords: Performance Management, Performance Measurement, Saudi Arabia Higher Education
In recent years, reform of the public sector in the UK and further a field has been a major focus of policy makers and academics. In the academic perspective, a great deal of literature on the area of public sector reform has been published and there have been many seminars and workshops around the world dealing with the issue. This is often encased in the New Public Management (NPM) debate (Hood, 1995). However, little research has hitherto concentrated on understanding the context of performance management in practice (Broad et al., 2007). Accounting systems and policies have played a central role in initiatives for change, and one of the main contributions of management accounting is the introduction of new performance measurement systems (Kaplan and Norton, 1996). Performance measurement systems (PMSs) have attracted a great deal of debate in the private sector, less so in the public sector and in developing countries, such as the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Within Saudi Arabia, a series of reform projects has attempted to introduce the notion of PMSs in the public sector. This paper aims to highlight a number of tentative findings induced from data related to the design and usage of PMSs in two Saudi universities. It also attempts to highlight the factors that might influence such systems.
The overall objectives of the study are to:
1.acquire empirical knowledge of PMSs in the Saudi university sector and explore the perceptions of academic and administrative staff within the Saudi university sector,
2.understand the relationship between PMSs and contextual factors, to develop a theoretical understanding of the phenomena
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