Deakin University

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Use of management control systems in university faculties : evidence of diagnostic versus interactive approaches by the upper echelons

conference contribution
posted on 2010-01-01, 00:00 authored by Belete Jember (BJ) BobeBelete Jember (BJ) Bobe, D Taylor
Drawing on upper echelon theory and focusing on the context of higher education reforms in Australia within new public management in university faculties/colleges, this study investigates the diagnostic versus interactive uses of management control systems by Deans/Pro-Vice Chancellors of Faculties/Colleges (hereafter called Faculty PVCs). It seeks to identify how the professional and experiential characteristics of these senior academic executives and the structure of their Faculty, impact on their managerial and collegial orientation as reflected in their approach to using management controls. A mail survey of Faculty PVCs is conducted amongst a census of all Faculties/Colleges of all universities in Australia. Supplementing this survey are semi-structured interviews with the PVC of the business and science Faculty at a large Australian university. Results reveal that PVCs who have had a longer career in higher education tend to use MCSs more interactively (or collegially). There is also evidence that as PVCs hold their current position for longer periods, they tend to move from an early diagnostic use of MCSs to a subsequent interactive use. Further, the higher the complexity of a Faculty the more a PVC will adopt an interactive approach to MCS use. Other PVC and Faculty characteristics did not reveal patterns of significant influence on the interactive or diagnostic use of MCSs. A key revelation from interviews is that PVCs will give over-riding importance to meeting centrally-set diagnostically-focused KPI, but still take a collegial approach within their Faculty to the broader use of MCSs. The findings lend limited support to upper echelons theory, but provide a grounding for further research into the impact that a managerial versus a collegial approach by PVCs/Deans may have on their Faculty’s growth in innovative capacities, teaching qualities or financial strength.



Asia Pacific Interdisciplinary Research in Accounting Conference (6th : 2010 : Sydney, N.S.W.)


1 - 22


University of Sydney


Sydney, N.S.W.

Place of publication

Sydney, N.S.W.

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End date




Publication classification

E1 Full written paper - refereed

Title of proceedings

APIRA 2010 : Proceedings of the 6th Asia Pacific Interdisciplinary Research in Accounting Conference

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