A critical contextual analysis of academic performance measurement : a Chinese case

  • Yixiong Li

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Within a global trend of managerialism, the adoption of performance measures in universities has drawn academic interest. Nevertheless, there has been scant discussion about their impact on academics. Inspired by a series of events which centre on the significance of performance measurement in Chinese society, this thesis explores the extent of the impact of performance measures on Chinese academics and the reason behind their influences. Drawing upon a series of Western theoretical perspectives - institutional (for example, Burns and Scapens, 2000; DiMaggio and Powell, 1983), psychoanalytical (for example, Lacan, 1977; Foucault, 1979; Roberts, 1991 and 2009) and Bourdieusian perspectives, this thesis analyses the emergence and the impact of academic performance measures in China. In doing so, in addition to broadening the theoretical applications of these theories, this thesis develops the theoretical contribution around a framework to guide the analysis of a particular accounting practice. This thesis adopts critical perspectives and discusses the social constructivism nature of performance measures. It reveals the socially constructed nature of performance measures through showing how academic performance measures in China are dominated by discourses and how discourses are ideologically shaped to facilitate a particular socio-political agenda. Within the boundary of a Chinese university, this thesis examines the nature of the impact of particular performance measures on academics. In doing so, this thesis makes an empirical contribution of adding visibility to Chinese academia - it finds that academic performance measures in China have been dominated by various discourses that rationalise the significance of research performance for Chinese economic development. In addition, the tenets of opportunism embedded in research and the poor attitudes towards teaching are identified by this thesis.
Date of Award29 May 2015
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University Of Strathclyde

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