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Performance appraisal, performance management and quality in higher education: contradictions, issues and guiding principles for the future(1).

The quality of institutional outcomes depends fundamentally on the work of staff, individually and collectively. Systematic staff appraisal or performance management procedures are generally assumed to comprise an important part of quality management and development in higher education institutions. Past approaches to such appraisal and performance management in higher education have had limited and confused purposes and their contribution to enhanced institutional performance and quality has been minimal. In some cases, the impact has been negative. For performance management to be relevant to the management and development of quality in the 21st century, the spotlight will need to fall on the manner in which organisational units are managed and led, and on the nurturing of teams, rather than the management of individual performance. A shift in emphasis from management to leadership will be required such that performance management becomes a central element in the leadership of change and the provision of transformational leadership.


The procedures and reports of audit teams and quality review panels over recent years have reinforced the assumption that systematic performance review or related procedures should comprise part of an institution's quality assurance and quality management processes. Almost all detailed institutional reports of the Committee for Quality Assurance in Higher Education (1995) for the 1994 quality reviews include specific comments on institutions' academic staff appraisal procedures. Within the broad province of the management of staff, Warren-Piper's (1993) report on quality management in universities identifies staff review/appraisal as one of the five areas to be considered in response to the question: `What procedures has the university adopted for monitoring and assessing its performance in the area of staff management?' (p. 63).

Similar trends are evident in other countries. Early in the 1990s, the institutional reports of academic audits conducted in the United Kingdom contained commentaries on career review, appraisal and performance review procedures for academic staff. More recently, the 1997 Teaching and Learning Process Quality Reviews conducted by the University Grants Committee of Hong Kong, and similar processes in New Zealand, provided encouragement to the introduction and upgrading of performance appraisal procedures.

In Total quality in higher education, Lewis and Smith (1994) highlight the relationship between quality and the social system and culture of an organisation. Quality is fundamentally dependent on the work of individuals; the energy, commitment and competence -- the performance -- of everyone in the organisation determines the quality of an institution and its outcomes. Through their influence on the relationships between people and the environment in which individuals and groups work, managers play a central role in shaping organisational culture, both at the institutional level and within organisational units. `It is the social system that has the greatest impact on such factors as motivation, creativity, innovative behaviour and teamwork' (p. 86).

This article explores the relationships between quality and organisational culture, the leadership role of managers, the work of individuals and teams and, in mm, performance appraisal and performance management. Particular focus is on the following questions:

* What is the relationship between the management and development of quality in higher education, and performance appraisal and performance management?

* What is the relevance of performance appraisal and performance management to the management and development of quality in the 21st century?

* What steps need to be taken to maximise the relevance and utility of performance appraisal and performance management and facilitate their effective operation?

With an emphasis on the Australian scene the article first traces the evolution and effectiveness of performance appraisal in higher education, and its relationship with quality. The discussion then turns to the future challenges facing universities and the implications of change for leadership and staff management. In this context, current moves to introduce more comprehensive performance management procedures are outlined and their consistency with contemporary thinking about leadership and the management of change explored. In the concluding section, a new `fourth generation' framework for conceptualising performance management and its relationship with quality management is outlined and key pre-conditions for success discussed.

First, a word about nomenclature. For the purposes of this article, the terms `performance evaluation', `performance review', `performance appraisal', `staff appraisal' and, in the North American context, `faculty evaluation' are used synonymously. Although in specific contexts these terms may have different meanings, for the present discussion they are defined as processes which involve the gathering of information about an individual's performance and, in the light of that information, the making of judgements and decisions concerning future action. The information may be used to assist individual decision making (decisions by individuals about themselves and their work, for example, to engage in professional development activity, or to take steps to develop one's performance). Or they may be used to assist institutional decision making (decisions by the organisation about staff, for example in relation to promotion, performance pay or other rewards, or in dealing with performance problems). In recent years, other terms such as `performance development', `performance review and development', `performance review, planning and development' and `performance management' have been introduced.

Performance appraisal: The first two generations

By using the analogy of the progressive development of computing and information systems, the evolution of performance appraisal and performance management processes may be thought of as occurring through successive generations.

As the basis for all subsequent approaches, the `first generation' is the conventional approach to performance appraisal which involves formal assessments by supervisors using structured forms, together with the provision of feedback to subordinates. It is essentially authoritarian in nature, reflecting a control-oriented approach to management. Although it continues to be common in many organisations, the evidence is that it generally does not lead to enhanced organisational performance. In fact, the opposite is frequently the case, as Blackburn and Pitney (1988) concluded in a review of performance appraisal in United States universities. Nevertheless many organisations, including universities, continue to use first generation appraisal and feedback programs even though the results may be negative. As Meyer (1991) observed, `I am sure we persist because the idea seems so logical, so common-sensible' (p. 70).

The introduction of `second generation' appraisal procedures in Australia commenced in 1991, paralleling similar developments in United Kingdom universities in the late 1980s (Gordon, 1990). Aimed at improvements in the efficiency and productivity of higher education institutions, a national award governing academic conditions of employment in 1988 introduced procedures for determining whether the performance of academic staff was satisfactory. Following considerable debate over the most appropriate form of performance review, a requirement for the introduction of `staff appraisal for developmental purposes' was incorporated in a further national industrial award in 1991. In 1992, agreement was reached on national guidelines for staff appraisal schemes and the conduct of a two-year trial in all Australian universities (Lonsdale, 1993; National Steering Committee on Staff Appraisal, 1995). The guidelines required that institutions' schemes be consistent with the following principles:

(i) the key objective of staff appraisal for developmental purposes is to assist the ongoing improvement of staff performance;

(ii) one key means of assisting improvement is by identifying the staff member's developmental needs;

(iii) appraisal schemes should ensure they are consistent with the values appropriate to the scholarly purposes of institutions. (National Steering Committee on Staff Appraisal, 1995)

The second generation approach is based on assumptions that (a) staff appraisal is an appropriate means of identifying developmental needs and that it is effective in doing so, (b) the identification of developmental needs through an appraisal process leads to successful development activity by staff, and (c) that the staff development activity in turn leads to improved performance. These assumptions were examined through a national review of the outcomes of the two-year trial. By and large, `staff appraisal for development purposes' turned out to be unsuccessful. The overall conclusion was that, in most institutions, staff development outcomes beyond those already occurring had not resulted and were unlikely to result in the future, that there was no evidence of performance improvement, and that other outcomes which may have enhanced institutional functioning did not result.
 In summary, the trial demonstrated that review processes can lead to
 productive individual and institutional outcomes. These are more likely
 where there is institutional commitment, the processes are integrated with
 other aspects of institutional functioning, and the opportunity is taken to
 achieve more than just staff development outcomes. In this way the process
 adds a further dimension to institutional leadership. This process,
 however, is not `appraisal'. (Lonsdale & Varley, 1994, p. 23)

These Australian findings paralleled the United Kingdom experience. Cases of `procedural compliance', in which people go through the motions but with no real commitment, where there is a climate of scepticism, and where appraisal is not seen to be linked to other facets of organisational functioning, were identified as barriers to the success of the United Kingdom scheme.
 We define procedural compliance as a response to an organisational
 innovation in which the technical requirements of the innovation (in this
 case appraisal) are broadly adhered to, but where there are substantial
 reservations about its efficacy and only partial commitment to it, so there
 is a tendency for the procedures associated with the innovation to be
 adhered to with less than a total commitment to its aims. (Bryman, Haslam,
 & Webb, 1994, p. 179)

The process was seen by many as a symbolic activity introduced merely to achieve the pay award, there was frequently little if any follow up, and `few respondents felt that it had made much difference to their performance or feelings about their work' (p. 182).

Many would argue that the same could be said about externally imposed quality assurance requirements. For example, the Teaching and Learning Process Quality Review report for one Hong Kong university observed:
 Our review suggests that the new quality assurance processes have been
 layered. on the traditional informal processes but are not yet well
 integrated with them. Staff are stepping up to the new requirements, but we
 did not detect a strong sense that they have bought into the processes at a
 deep level. It would be unfortunate if the new processes came to be viewed
 as administrative appendages rather than essential vehicles for focusing,
 debating, and communicating on matters central to maintaining [the
 institution's](2) educational comparative advantage.

The leadership of change and leadership for change

It is a truism to say that higher education is beset by rapid and turbulent change. In Australia, the reports of the Higher Education Management Review Committee (1995) (Hoare report) and the Review of Higher Education Financing and Policy (1998) (West report) both emphasise the unavoidable and urgent nature of change, at both systems and institutional levels. Changing government, community and employer expectations, the digital revolution, rapidly growing competition among existing and new local and international providers, and government demands for increased institutional flexibility, diversity and efficiency characterise the substantial influences and irreversible changes currently sweeping Australian higher education.

Such change can be dramatic when considered at the department level. A recent strategically oriented departmental review at an Australian university involved an analysis of the likely profile of the department in the year 2000 and the implications for leadership and staff management. Current trends, enrolment projections and aspirations are such that the department will be dramatically different in 2000 and beyond: full fee-paying students will comprise at least 55 per cent of on-campus enrolments, off-shore students will outnumber on-campus students by a factor of at least two to one, substantial growth in the provision of mid-career professional development programs will have occurred, recent developments in communication and computer technologies will have been integrated into teaching-learning processes, and the department will have sought a substantial increase in its research and scholarly output. The department concluded that existing ways of doing things, based largely on 1980s processes and assumptions, will no longer be appropriate. New approaches to the ways in which work is structured, to the roles and responsibilities of staff, to organisational structures and communication processes, and to departmental management and leadership processes will be necessary.

As a consequence, the spotlight is increasingly falling on the performance of academic and general staff, as a key to strategic change. For academic staff, in addition to expectations and standards traditionally deriving from the academic community and the nature of scholarly work, commercially oriented performance measures are rapidly emerging and roles are changing. Given shrinking resources, colleagues are less prepared to tolerate inadequate contributions from low performers and departments cannot afford them; a non-performing professor costs well in excess of $100 000 per annum.

Lest it be thought that this is a recent phenomenon, it is salutary to reflect on predictions and needs identified in a 1984 report on staffing in higher education:
 The next ten years will be characterised by further change and growing
 pressures on [institutions] and their staff. At the institutional level
 continuing financial restrictions in the short term and uncertain funding
 policies in the longer term, increasing demands for accountability and
 changing course provisions will require [institutions] to make the most
 effective and flexible use of their staffing resources which, at the same
 time, will be relatively static due to low staff turnover. For staff,
 pressures will arise from changing roles as a consequence of institutional
 evolution, increasing employment uncertainty and declining career
 prospects, increasing accountability and institutional requirements to
 perform, and technological, social and legislative change. In such
 circumstances, maintenance of morale at a high level amongst academic staff
 will become an increasingly demanding challenge. (Australian Committee,
 1984, p. 14)

The report went on to assert that `a fundamental issue concerns institutional approaches to staff motivation, reward systems and the evaluation of academic staff' (p. 14). Fourteen years later, these were prophetic words indeed. What is different now is the urgency and scale of change and, perhaps more importantly, the fact that although the changes and pressures on staff have been widely felt for some years, leadership and management processes have not kept pace.

The spotlight is falling also on the management and leadership provided by deans, heads of academic departments and the directors of administrative and support units. As Seagren, Cresswell, and Wheeler (1993) point out, the department (or equivalent organisational unit) is the basic unit through which the work of the university occurs, and the department head is at the front line of the change process. Heads are increasingly required to lead major change and, in particular, to assist staff to cope with and take advantage of change. There are growing expectations that they will be accountable for the effectiveness (`productivity') of cost centres and for establishing conditions under which others can do good work -- in short, managing for top performance. In this respect, it is notable that a key chapter in the Hoare report (Higher Education Management Review Committee, 1995) is headed `Leading change through people'.

Third generation: Performance management

Given the inadequacies of the second generation approach to appraisal, and in response to the changes and imperatives outlined above, almost all Australian universities currently are aiming to enhance staff productivity and institutional quality through the introduction of new approaches to performance management, usually through enterprise agreements. Many are also introducing parallel procedures for senior managers, often associated with performance-linked pay. Similar developments are occurring in New Zealand and some Asian countries.

In parallel with the developmental emphasis of the Australian staff appraisal experiment, there has been a counterbalancing trend. A review of international developments in relation to the use of incentives, rewards and sanctions in higher education concluded:
 While strongly resisted by academic unions, many university administrators
 are increasingly seeing appraisal as a means of ensuring accountability,
 assisting staff management and improving efficiency -- and directly
 associated. with rewards and sanctions. This view is also increasingly
 expressed by members of university governing councils, politicians and
 others in the community. We should expect these calls to continue. We
 should also expect increasing pressure for the use of procedures which link
 developmental purposes with the use of rewards. And it will be necessary to
 find effective ways of linking developmentally oriented reviews with
 procedures for dealing with unsatisfactory performance. (Lonsdale, 1993, p.

These calls have gathered momentum and are now reflected in the `third generation' approach, as Australian universities variously seek to introduce performance management processes. A central recommendation in the Hoare report summarises the third generation approach:
 All universities should phase in a comprehensive approach to performance
 management for both academic and general staff. The aims of any performance
 management system, which must be based on agreed performance and
 developmental objectives for the individual, should be to:

 (a) identify the relationship between the performance of staff and the
 direction of the relevant department, school or faculty, or where
 appropriate, the university;

 (b) inform and provide feedback to staff on the level of their performance
 and skill development within the context of the overall strategic direction
 of their area and the university. This would include feedback from
 appropriate individuals or groups which might include supervisors,
 colleagues, staff, students, or other persons with whom staff members deal;

 (c) identify areas of future development for staff and formulate action
 plans for fostering their career development; and

 (d) generate data for making decisions on matters such as probation,
 increments, tenure, contract renewal, and the management of diminished or
 unsatisfactory performance. As far as possible, the consideration of these
 matters, currently undertaken in a disparate manner, should be brought
 together. (Higher Education Management Review Committee, 1995)

It is not widely appreciated that the third generation approach was also advocated by the Industry Task Force on Leadership and Management Skills (1995) (the Karpin Task Force), which proposed that `management schools need to manage their academics for peak performance'. The Task Force recommended that a `best practice' model of comprehensive performance management should be introduced which involved establishing key result areas and development plans for academics in management schools, with appraisal every six months using 360 degree feedback from superiors, expert peers and students. The process would be linked to an incentive model which offered a performance bonus of at least 10 per cent for senior lecturer and above.

The trend towards the use of extrinsic rewards, including performance-linked pay, is also illustrated in the Review of Higher Education Financing and Policy (1997) Policy discussion paper: `The most direct incentives for good teaching are to pay gifted teachers more or provide them with other benefits in the form of enhanced conditions of employment' (p. 36).

While the schemes advocated in the Hoare report would be conducted in the context of the strategic development of the department and the university, the focus of the third generation approach is essentially the work, performance and development of individual staff. Performance management implies processes whereby the performance of staff is managed by others -- by managers, supervisors or reviewers. It is a process which still smacks of a control-oriented approach to management. In focusing on the performance of the individual, the implication is that, in pursuit of enhanced institutional effectiveness, it is the individual who must change.

Contradictions and inconsistencies

At this point, one is faced with an enigma. In parallel with the moves by universities to introduce performance management, our understanding of the factors which are important in effective leadership and the management of organisational change is moving in the opposite direction. For example, in the works of Blanchard and Waghorn (1997), Covey and Merrill (1994), Duignan (1997), Kouzes and Posner (1995), Nanus (1992), Senge (1992), Wheatley (1992) and other contemporary writers on the leadership of successful change-oriented organisations, particularly those which are knowledge-based, performance review and performance management are invariably not mentioned. Although total quality management (TQM) may now be losing some of its gloss, it is significant that performance review and similar processes are inconsistent with the principles which underpin TQM. Lewis and Smith (1994) paraphrase relevant Deming principles in the context of higher education in the following way:
 Deming Principle 11. Eliminate performance standards (quotas) for faculty,
 administration, staff and students (e.g. raise test scores by 10%, lower
 dropout rate by 15%). Eliminate management by numbers and numerical goals.
 Substitute leadership.

 Deming Principle 12. Remove barriers that rob faculty, administration,
 staff and students of the right to take pride in and enjoy the satisfaction
 of personal performance and productivity. This means, among other things,
 abolishing annual or merit ratings and management by objectives. The focus
 of responsibility for all managers, academic and administrative, must be
 changed from quantity to quality. (p. 101)

Similarly, writers on strategic management such as Limerick and Cunnington (1993) make no reference to performance management as such; at the same time they do advocate changes to human resource management processes aimed at developing the key competencies of `collaborative individualism', including the negotiation of mutual objectives that satisfy individual and organisational needs, assistance to employees in `mapping their assets', and managing by empowerment.

In short, the principles and assumptions on which conventional, third generation approaches to performance management are based are not consistent with contemporary thinking about good management and leadership, particularly that needed as universities enter the 21st century. Although it is likely that there will be continuing emphasis on the introduction of third generation performance management and equivalent processes into universities, the likelihood is that, like the second generation, the benefits will continue to be elusive. This is particularly so if the benefits are measured in terms of institutional effectiveness and quality outcomes, as distinct from the satisfaction of accountability requirements or the streamlining of human resource decisions. Grafting new components onto existing assumptions and understandings about staff appraisal and performance management will not be adequate.

The fourth generation

What steps need to be taken to ensure that performance management-type processes do make an effective contribution to quality management?

In an analysis of the factors affecting motivation, Maehr and Braskamp (1986) observed:
 Motivation should be seen not only as an enduring trait of individuals and
 groups but as a direct product of the situation in which the person or
 group is placed. And situations are usually easier to change than people
 [italics added]. (p. 8)

This is little different from McGregor's (1960) statement on Theory Y:
 The essential task of management is to arrange organisational conditions
 and methods of operation so that people can achieve their own goals best by
 directing their own efforts toward organisational objectives.

 This is a process of creating opportunities, releasing potential,
 encouraging growth and providing guidance.

With its focus on the work, performance and development of individual staff, the third generation approach to performance management is only halfway there. The other half concerns the situation -- the circumstances under which people work. Performance management is best seen not as a process of managing the performance of staff, but of:
 managing so that job satisfaction, motivation and performance are enhanced,
 and change is embraced. In other words, rather than a focus on directing
 and reviewing staff, the emphasis in the leader's role is on creating the
 conditions under which others can best work. (Lonsdale, 1996, p. 4)

This is managing for performance, rather than the management of performance. Procedures should have as their starting point and primary purpose the facilitation of management and leadership practices aimed at encouraging and enabling good work, rather than the satisfaction of accountability requirements, the provision of rewards and incentives, or dealing with performance problems.

More specifically, they will need to be designed to reinforce the maintenance of an organisational culture through which individuals feel better about themselves and their work and thereby add value, which is designed to build not only motivation but also commitment and, significantly for academic institutions, is consistent with our understanding of how best to manage professional people in innovative and creative organisations. They should also be congruent with our understanding of the factors influencing the motivation of professionals. Key characteristics include:

* the encouragement of experimentation and risk taking,

* a non-judgemental psychological climate,

* empowerment and the encouragement of individual autonomy and responsibility within the framework of collective action,

* the development of a trusting environment in which difference is valued and new ideas welcomed,

* an emphasis on cooperation rather than competition,

* clarity of purpose and of individual roles and responsibilities,

* an emphasis on the provision of frank and constructive feedback, joint problem solving, positive reinforcement, and the recognition of achievement, and

* acknowledgement of the importance of intrinsic and socially derived satisfactions as key sources of motivation, as well as extrinsic rewards and sanctions.

More detailed discussions on motivation in academic organisations may be found in Harshbarger (1989), Lonsdale (1993), McKeachie (1982) and Moses (1986).

These characteristics are consistent also with the elements of cybernetic systems which Middlehurst and Elton (1992) argue are essential to organisational survival during turbulent change, elements which, in essence, `constitute what in academia is called collegiality' (p. 256).

Contemporary models of leadership also place substantial emphasis on the team as well as the individual. Given the growing emphasis in Australia on performance-linked rewards as part of performance management, Chait's (1988) contribution in a collection of articles on the advantages and disadvantages of such rewards to individuals in American higher education is significant:
 Despite rhetoric that honours collaboration, co-operation and shared
 authority, most colleges and universities neglect or underutilize rewards
 for group performance. Almost without exception, teachers, scholars, and
 administrators are compensated, promoted, and otherwise rewarded for
 individual performance; rarely, if ever, do colleges and universities
 reward collective performance. In fact, on many campuses the incentive
 structure discourages collective behaviour.

 An ironic contrast is found in the corporate sector, where few companies
 practice shared governance or seek to involve employees as responsible
 partners in strategic decisions, but where rewards for group performance
 are much more common. (p. 23)

In similar vein, approaches to quality management and continuous improvement emphasise teams rather than individuals, and work on the principle that increases in productivity flow from the synergistic effects generated by well-functioning teams. The focus is on the development and evaluation of group efforts and outcomes rather than those of individuals.

Using the right starting point, and striking the right balance

For performance management-type processes to be relevant to the management and development of quality in the 21st century, the spotlight will need to fall at least as much on the manner in which departments and other organisational units are managed and led, and on the nurturing of teams, as on the performance management of individual staff. And a shift in emphasis from management to leadership will be required such that performance management becomes a partner, or even a central element, in the leadership of change and the provision of transformational leadership.

Table 1 summarises the range of possible starting points and purposes for performance management and related procedures. It serves also to draw together in summary form the discussion to this point. In Australia and the United Kingdom, the second generation `appraisal for developmental purposes' falls in the third column (individual decision making), and generally was limited just to professional and career development. The two left-hand columns (Accountability; Institutional decision making) reflect what variously have been termed the `judgemental', `summative' or `managerial' purposes of performance review, the two right-hand columns reflect what are referred to as `developmental' or `formative' purposes. Differences between the two sides in terms of purposes, criteria and standards, motivational bases, related staff management and leadership processes and impact on institutional effectiveness and quality summarise the debate over the past decade or so over the relative virtues of `developmental' and `judgemental' processes.


The reality is that any institutional scheme will have multiple starting points and purposes; the need is to strike an appropriate balance. While the third generation approach is principally aimed at purposes concerned with accountability, institutional decision making and individual decision making (the first three columns), the fourth generation approach seeks to deal with the dilemma by shifting the emphasis to the fourth column, and uses the process as an integral part of the management and leadership of departments. Rather than developing procedures for the review and management of performance, the starting point is to ask: what processes will facilitate strategic management and the provision of leadership?

This, however, is more easily said than done. In the face of continuing demands for efficiency, accountability and enhanced quality assurance, and of pressures towards a market-driven commercial enterprise model for higher education, there is a strong likelihood that institutions will emphasise the third, rather than the fourth generation. As Middlehurst and Elton (1992) observed:
 Imperatives of control and accountability for resources and activities have
 dominated institutional concerns, resulting in an emphasis on restraint and
 containment rather than empowerment, initiative and creative development.
 In other words, the balance has focused on managerial values and actions
 rather than leadership. (p. 261)

These imperatives are stronger now than in the early 1990s and, given present trends, are likely to be more so beyond 2000. When multiple objectives are sought through a third generation performance management scheme which seeks to combine both judgemental and developmental purposes, the evidence is that, unless strenuous efforts are made to maintain a focus on the developmental aspects, concerns over the manner in which the judgemental information might be used tend to dominate the thinking of those involved (Leung & Lonsdale, 1996).

Pre-conditions for success

Table 1 highlights the interdependencies between fourth generation performance management and various other elements of the institutional system. Its successful introduction is likely also to require attention to such matters as role definition for department heads, leadership, communication and delegation processes within departments, institutional reward structures, strategic planning processes and the reshaping of organisational and departmental cultures. And conversely, the effective use of the fourth generation approach should support further development in those areas.

Developmental work in Australian and overseas universities has led to the identification of a set of principles and guidelines for the successful introduction of fourth generation performance management, for academic and general staff.(3) These update earlier work on principles and guidelines for the appraisal of academic staff in Australian higher education (Lonsdale, Dennis, Openshaw, & Mullins, 1988).

Leadership focus

To emphasise the point already made, the single most important requirement is that the process is regarded as an integral part of the provision of leadership, rather than an administrative appendage. It needs to be seen as an ongoing process, not a once-a-year event. Although regular review and planning may be central to the process, the expectation should be that dialogue, feedback, goal setting, support and problem solving occur continuously.

In many universities, this may require a redefinition of the role of heads of academic departments, with emphasis shifting from administrative management (ensuring administrative requirements are satisfied, protecting the interests of the unit, responding to pressures from their constituency) to leadership. This expanded role of heads involves helping to shape a vision for the unit and establish a shared view of directions and priorities for the future, building the team, empowering staff, and assisting individuals and groups to respond to the imperatives of change and move in new directions. In short, it requires that heads be seen as strategic managers and transformational leaders -- a responsibility shared with the vice-chancellor and other senior leaders. This role is very different from the roles of reviewer, appraiser or mentor which are generally assumed in second and third generation approaches to appraisal and performance management.

Implications inevitably follow concerning the manner of appointment of heads, the specification of responsibilities and appointment criteria, and the period of their appointment. In particular, the provision of leadership development programs through which heads and others with responsibility for the management and leadership of staff are assisted to clarify their roles and develop leadership competencies will be essential.

Expectations, role clarification and performance planning

In the context of changing expectations and roles, a focus on the clarification of individual roles, responsibilities, priorities and accountabilities will be important. The emphasis is on forward-looking `performance planning' rather than retrospective review. A necessary framework for this is a clear appreciation by staff of the expectations, aspirations and priorities of the work group, team or department (`this is what we look for in this department; this is what we aspire to achieve'), together with an understanding of institutional expectations and strategic priorities. The latter includes institutional expectations concerning the roles and responsibilities of academic staff and the relative values placed on the teaching, research and other components of the role, which are clearly related to institutional mission and strategic priorities. In providing this framework, it is likely that needs will arise for the development of the strategic thinking and strategic planning skills of deans, heads and directors, together with the development of a shared understanding and vision within departments.

Incentives and rewards

The cautious use of incentives and rewards will be necessary if experimentation, risk-taking and individual and organisational learning are to be encouraged. Leaders should be encouraged to make greater use of the range of financially neutral means available for recognising quality performance and providing incentives and rewards.

Institutional promotions criteria and procedures will need to be sufficiently flexible to enable consistency with (a) the individualised bases for judgements within fourth generation performance management, and (b) the specific responsibilities and contributions of individual staff within the broader framework of departmental needs and priorities.

Development, Implementation and cultural change

Typically, appraisal and performance management schemes have been developed by a small group within an institution, perhaps a joint university-union working party or a human resources working group. Although it is usual that department heads and other reviewers would be `trained' to carry out the resulting process, they generally have not been involved in its development. Fourth generation performance management requires significant cultural change and its introduction involves considerable organisational and individual learning. Widespread consultative processes are necessary, especially in the early stages, in the development of policy and procedures. In particular, it is essential to involve the leaders who will implement the process (deans, heads, directors and other senior staff in departments) in the development of philosophy, purposes, principles and guidelines, as well as procedures. They must have a hand in defining how the process can assist them to provide leadership and in thinking through the implications for their own roles. New performance management procedures developed through management-union enterprise bargaining negotiations are unlikely to be successful.

The role of senior staff will be crucial. It is essential that the process is regarded and promoted by the Chief Executive Officer and other senior staff as integral to the strategic development of the university. They must talk it up, build the culture and actively present the benefits to the university community. Implementation should cascade from the top. Schemes are more likely to be successful if, in the first round of implementation, senior staff, from the vice-chancellor down, are the first to engage in the process before introducing it with other staff.


As we approach the 21st century, the past emphasis on the management of quality will need to be replaced by management for quality. Given the fundamental role of people in the achievement of quality outcomes, central to management for quality will be management -- and leadership -- for performance. The first three generations of appraisal and performance management, including those currently being introduced in Australian universities, are unlikely to assist this. A fourth generation approach with the basic aim of facilitating strategic management and transformational leadership, rather than the review and management of performance, offers a way forward.

In the past, the usual approach when universities have introduced procedures such as staff appraisal or performance management has been to develop policy and procedures (usually through industrial negotiation rather than consultation), conduct training programs, and stand back. The successful development and introduction of fourth generation performance management will require significant cultural change and is likely also to require attention to a range of related institutional policies and processes. An orchestrated approach to organisational development and change management will be necessary.

In particular, the fourth generation approach will require the integration of performance management with (a) the leadership of academic and general staff, (b) management and leadership development programs for deans, department heads and others with leadership responsibilities, and (c) the strategic planning, management and development of university departments (both academic and administrative/support), in the context of university strategic goals.

education methods
higher education
leadership qualities
performance indicators
quality assurance


(1) This article is an adaptation of a paper on `Fourth generation performance management: Integrating organisational development, staff development and strategic management in universities', presented to the 6th AHED International Forum, Adelaide, 7 July 1997.

(2) The nature of the reporting process requires that the identity of the institution not be disclosed.

(3) This discussion focuses on key pre-conditions for success. A more detailed listing of assumptions, guidelines and principles is provided in the AHED paper referred to above.


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Dr Alan Lonsdale is Managing Director and Senior Associate of Lonsdale and Associates, Bickley, Western Australia 6076.
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Author:Lonsdale, Alan
Publication:Australian Journal of Education
Date:Nov 1, 1998
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