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Accounting for research : academic responses to research performance demands in an Australian university
conference contributionposted on 06.12.2017, 00:00 by J Guthrie, Ann SardesaiAnn Sardesai, H Irvine, S Tooley
Purpose – This paper examines an accounting for research performance in the Excellence forResearch in Australia (ERA) assessment, and the Performance Management Systems (PMS)of an Australian university over the period 2006 – 2012.Design/methodology/approach – Academic policy and organisational literature areinterpreted from an institutional perspective and academic responses to a survey are analysedboth quantitatively and qualitatively.Findings – The findings indicate improved research performance in the ERA assessmentexercise. Also, the results indicate increasing stress and decreasing job satisfaction levels, withacademics being forced to make choices about their research due to strongly research focusedPMS within the university.Research limitations/implications – The paper focuses on one case study which hasundergone change and based on perceptions of academics. As research expectations intensifyglobally, future research could be reinforced by further longitudinal and comparative research.The study creates awareness to management of the need to balance PMS on all three aspectsof academic performance, namely, teaching, research and administration. It also highlights theimportance for regulators and higher education leaders to take account of academics’ views inthe design and implementation of research assessment.Originality/value – This study investigates in detail the responses of individual academics toAustralia’s ERA initiative. It reveals a disconnection between the institutional demands placedon the higher education sector, university changes made to accommodate these demands, andthe ability of academics to meet these demands in a sustainable way.