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The spectacle of research assessment systems: insights from New Zealand and the United Kingdom

Chatterjee, B ORCID: 0000-0003-0504-8858, Cordery, CJ, De Loo, I and Letiche, H 2020 , 'The spectacle of research assessment systems: insights from New Zealand and the United Kingdom' , Accounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal , doi: 10.1108/AAAJ-01-2019-3865.

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Abstract

Purpose:In this paper, we concentrate on the use of research assessment (RA) systems in universities in NewZealand (NZ) and the United Kingdom (UK). Primarily we focus on PBRF and REF, and explore differencesbetween these systems on individual and systemic levels. We ask, these days, in what way(s) the systemicdifferences between PBRF and REF actually make a difference on how the two RA systems are experienced byacademic staff.Design/methodology/approach: This research is exploratory and draws on 19 interviews in whichaccounting researchers from both countries offer reflections on their careers and how RA (systems) haveinfluenced these careers. The stories they tell are classified by regarding RA in universities as a manifestationof the spectacle society, following Debord (1992) and Flyverbom and Reinecke (2017).Findings: Both UK and New Zealand academics concur that their research activities and views on researchare very much shaped by journal rankings and citations. Among UK academics, there seems to be a greatercritical attitude towards the benefits and drawbacks of REF, which may be related to the history of REF in theircountry. Relatively speaking, in New Zealand, individualism seems to have grown after the introduction of thePBRF, with little active pushback against the system. Cultural aspects may partially explain this outcome.Academics in both countries lament the lack of focus on practitioner issues that the increased significance ofRA seems to have evoked.Research limitations/implications: This research is context-specific and may have limited applicabilityto other situations, academics or countries.Practical implications: RA and RA systems seem to be here to stay. However, as academics we can, andought to, take responsibility to try to ensure that these systems reflect the future of accounting (research) wewish to create. It is certainly not mainly or solely up to upper management officials to set this in motion, as hasoccasionally been claimed in previous literature. Some of the academics who participated in this researchactively sought to bring about a different future.

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Chatterjee, B and Cordery, CJ and De Loo, I and Letiche, H
Keywords: Universities, Performance measurement, Research assessment, Spectacle
Journal or Publication Title: Accounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal
Publisher: Emerald Publishing Limited
ISSN: 1368-0668
DOI / ID Number: 10.1108/AAAJ-01-2019-3865
Copyright Information:

© Emerald Publishing Limited

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