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Perceptions and experiences of annual report preparers

Dixon, K., Coy, D. and Tower, G. (1995) Perceptions and experiences of annual report preparers. Higher Education, 29 (3). pp. 287-306.

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Between 1986 and 1993, tertiary education institutions, [TEIs] in New Zealand have transformed their annual reports from being uninformative, untimely and unobtainable documents, to ones that are well-presented, comprehensive and readily available in a timely fashion (Coy, Tower & Dixon, 1994). This paper reports a study of the events and experiences according to report preparers in bringing about this change, including the incentives and difficulties that they have been facing. The study uses data collected from 48 staff involved in report preparation at 15 of the 37 TEIs that are in New Zealand. These data are qualitative, and are analysed from a realist perspective mixing causal analysis and interpretive understanding (Silverman 1985). The study suggests that the mandated changes to reporting are seen as one facet of several recent public sector reforms in New Zealand. Interviewees felt that the changes to reporting were driven externally by legislation, and internally by the stances taken by some chief executive officers and by the professional ardour of some accountants. Moreover, the Audit Office was seen as a prominent agent of change. The general reactions of preparers of reports to the reforms range from strong support to resentment and scepticism. A major concern voiced was the potential for data reported by TEIs to be used for political purposes. On the other hand, improved staff motivation was noted in many institutions as well as greater cost consciousness and awareness of student, needs. However, these positive attributes were probably derived from the reforms in general, and not just from the changes to reporting.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Murdoch Business School
Publisher: Springer
Copyright: © 1995 Kluwer Academic Publishers.
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