Managerial Versus Professional Control: The Case of Performance Appraisal in UK Universities

William Mccourt, J. Moores

Research output: Working paper


We offer a case study of the relative efficacy of managerial and professional modes of control over professional behaviour. It focuses on performance appraisal in UK higher education, particularly one ‘new’ university. Despite the government’s intention that appraisal would be used for managerial purposes, in operation appraisal had a development or mixed orientation, and even then was only partly effective. We argue that appraisal failed because it cut across professional values in an area of professional autonomy, and that it can be rescued, if at all, only by aligning it with those values. While management remains necessary for allocating resources, professional mechanisms have a neglected value for improving work performance in ‘clinical’ areas where professionals necessarily retain autonomy.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationManchester
Publication statusPublished - 2007

Publication series

NameManagement in Development
PublisherUniversity of Manchester: Institute for Development Policy and Management


  • performance management and appraisal; professionalism; higher education; managerial control

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Global Development Institute


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