Accounting and Finance Seminars- Kari Lukka (Turku)
Kari Lukka (Turku)
Title - Safeguarding the unknown? Quality of research in the performance measurement era at universities
Abstract - In this study we examine the meaning and employment of the notion of research quality in academic practice. This study is inspired by a worry that the difficult-to-define notion of quality in research is potentially getting too simplistically determined by its measurable proxies, and whether academics, especially manager-academics, realise this risk as well as how they deal with it. While previous studies provide relatively good visibility to the landscape of performance measurement in the university sector, we know little about how performance measurement systems (PMSs) are mobilized locally, especially in relation to how one of the fundamental virtues of scholarly work, that of following the principles of producing quality, is perceived and managed. To examine these matters empirically, we conducted a comparative case study of two university faculties in one European country. Despite notable differences in the design and use of the local PMSs, manager-academics of the two faculties are found to have rather similar understandings of the conceptual meaning of quality in research. However, there were differences in the perceived opportunity for, and willingness to exert, their agency regarding how quality is operationalised. This is seen to be partly a function of how restrictive or inclusive the local PMS is in defining academic performance and the extent of reliance on the PMS in forming judgmental evaluations of research quality. We conclude by commenting on the pressing need for academics to exercise their agency in efforts to resist prevailing forces, from both outside and within universities, that are driving a narrower understanding of what quality in research means in practice, and how PMSs can play a role in either encouraging or constraining the potential for such agency.