Management accounting as a tool to measure the viability of performance management for the acedemia [sic] in higher education in South Africa
Weyers, Ana Cristina Gonçalves
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The primary aim of a Performance Management System is the development of a process where goals are set based on the needs of the organisation, while taking the development needs of the individual into account. These goals are negotiated and finalised through a continuous process of communication between all interested parties. In Higher Education, students, other internal clients, managers/supervisors and functional experts evaluate performances against these set goals. A well-designed system, if applied correctly, will benefit employees at various levels. Individuals become involved in setting goals or objectives; this in turn becomes the basis of a performance agreement. Performance feedback is regularly given and in terms of specific scoreboards, these scoreboards, in turn, indicated to which extent the performance goals were met or not. Over-achievers are rewarded accordingly while individuals, who do not meet their performance goals, are assisted and development programmes are suggested to improve relevant performance. Higher Education Institutions, particularly in South Africa, have been very unenthusiastic in adopting and implementing Performance Management Systems, especially when it involves management and appraisal of academic staff at institutions of higher learning. A possible reason for this reluctance may be found with the high opinion placed on the concept of 'academic freedom', and specifically, the difficulties associated with 'measuring' excellence in academic outputs and pursuits, and 'measuring intellectual property'. The goal of this study is to address and solve the stated problem and to evaluate Performance Management Systems currently used in Higher Education, in an attempt to measure their contribution to the Human Resource Management process. This research study was undertaken with the aim of investigating current levels of satisfaction with Performance Management as applied to Higher Education Institutions. The Balanced Scorecard, a Management Accounting tool, was also examined with the idea of serving as a tool to measure the viability of Performance Management of academia in Higher Education Institutions. This research study formulated one main objective, and four secondary objectives. The main objective of this study was to determine, with Management Accounting as a tool, the viability of Performance Management for the academia in Higher Education in South Africa. The secondary objectives were summarised as follows: • A review of Performance Management Systems, • A comprehensive study of Performance Management Systems for academia in South Africa, • The impact of Performance Management on academic staff performance, and staff development, • An investigation into the Balanced Scorecard as a Management Accounting tool. A comprehensive literature review was conducted, and from the literature it became evident that Performance Management of academia in Higher Education Institutions is problematic. A questionnaire circulated to the academia of four Higher Education Institutions served as basis for the empirical section of this study. The empirical evidence gathered through the responses captured from the questionnaires suggested first hand that there is great dissatisfaction amongst academia regarding the Performance Management as applied to them. In this case the findings gathered from the empirical study corresponded with the findings from the literature review conducted for this study. Evidence gathered through the responses from the questionnaires suggested great dissatisfaction with the current Performance Management System and that academia is eager to investigate alternative methods of implementing Performance Management . The findings also suggested that the Balanced Scorecard, a Management Accounting tool, should be investigated further in an attempt to find an alternative method of Performance Management The findings of this study also identified areas for future possible research; there is a need for more extensive research studies to validate the use of the Balanced Scoreboard, a Management Accounting tool, as an alternative to the Performance Management Systems currently applied.