Performance measurement and management in the British higher education sector

Author Affiliation

  • Abdullah Zafar Sheikh is Professor of Management at the Institute of Business Administration, Karachi.

Faculty / School

School of Business Studies (SBS)


Department of Management

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Document Type





Education | Educational Technology | Mathematics | Statistics and Probability


Theoretical enquiry and empirical studies demonstrate the significance of performance management (PM) in the higher education sector and it is a fulcrum for developing a strategic role for people management within universities. In spite of the perceived weaknesses of people management in the higher education sector, in general, the current period of rapid and substantial contextual change may necessitate greater formalisation of HR practices across the British higher education sector. In addition to the changing role of the HR function and line managers, these developments may result in an increasingly stringent performance regime across the sector, especially in more hard-pressed institutions. Through a literature review and a pilot study, this paper attempts to address two main research questions: (i) what are the current performance management practices in the British Higher Education sector? and (ii) what needs to be done to strategically align these practices within HEIs in the UK? This paper discusses the wider literature related to performance management in general and to academic institutions in particular. We also undertook a small-scale qualitative study to explore the views of HR professionals on the need for, and the current performance measurement systems in their universities in the UK. The preliminary findings confirmed that PM is a key issue in the respondents' institutions, with substantial and recent changes in policy. This underscores the need for a large-scale research agenda to capture the current dynamics of change the sector is undergoing. The paper concludes by stimulating a policy debate and placing a number of research calls, along with suggestions on how these research questions may be investigated.

Indexing Information

HJRS - W Category, Scopus