The Impact of Changes in Contextual Factors on Performance Management Systems in South African Universities: A Case Study
The study examines the causal effect of changes in the contextual factors on performance management systems,
using a case study. Unique performance management systems in use within the university provide a counter-point to the
private sector orientation of conventional research. Conventional research in performance management systems and
management accounting practices has paid insufficient attention to the complexities of the environments within which change
occurs. The majority of such research has been conducted in developed economies with, largely, a private sector orientation.
The findings indicate that portability of performance management practices from the private sector to public institutions is
questionable as much as transferability of practices when the background of organizations is not being taken into account. The
background of organizations in emerging economies and the external variables need to be considered in understanding
management accounting changes in such environments. Internal dynamics impact the manner in which the interplay with
external forces of globalization, competitive forces of university ranking league tables, technology, regulation and declining
funding affect performance management practices, putting organizational effectiveness at risk. Unique practices found in the
university should not be ignored or underestimated in considering the bouquet of management control practices essential for
meeting organizational objectives but, instead, may need to be strengthened. The study also suggests directions which future
research in the area of change in management accounting practices could take.
Key words - Complexities, contextual factors, performance management systems.