Consequences of KPIs and performance management in higher education

Kairuz, Therese, Andriés, Lynn, Nickloes, Tracy, and Truter, Ilse (2016) Consequences of KPIs and performance management in higher education. International Journal of Educational Management, 30 (6). pp. 881-893.

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Purpose: The core business of universities is learning. Cognitive thinking is critical for learning and the development of new knowledge which are essential in higher education. Creative, reflective and critical thinking are negatively affected by unrealistic demands and stress. The purpose of this conceptual paper is to argue that Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and performance management are detrimental in the higher education sector, as they cause undue stress which impacts negatively on that essential criterion of academia, cognitive thinking.

Design/Methodology/Approach: To explore this issue, the authors discuss the impact of stressful demands in the context of Australian higher education. The paper draws on literature that describes 'managerialism' and on neuroscientific evidence to develop a hypothesis that supports a more holistic approach to human resources management of academics.

Findings: Performance management and measures (including KPIs) add to the complex demands of academic work despite a lack of evidence that they are appropriate in the higher education sector.

Originality/value: Performance management systems and KPIs undermine creative, reflective and critical thinking. Principles governing education should supersede the ever-growing emphasis that is being placed on quantitative measures and bureaucratic demands in higher education.

Item ID: 41350
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 0951-354X
Keywords: performance; appraisal; measures; metrics; stress; faculty
Date Deposited: 19 Nov 2015 02:43
FoR Codes: 39 EDUCATION > 3903 Education systems > 390303 Higher education @ 50%
35 COMMERCE, MANAGEMENT, TOURISM AND SERVICES > 3505 Human resources and industrial relations > 350503 Human resources management @ 50%
SEO Codes: 93 EDUCATION AND TRAINING > 9305 Education and Training Systems > 930501 Education and Training Systems Policies and Development @ 50%
93 EDUCATION AND TRAINING > 9305 Education and Training Systems > 930502 Management of Education and Training Systems @ 50%
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