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Strategising and accounting at an Australian university: practice, narrative and performative perspectives

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posted on 2023-01-19, 09:55 authored by Esin Ozdil
Submission note: A thesis submitted in total fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy to the Department of Accounting and Data Analytics, La Trobe Business School, College of Arts, Social Sciences and Commerce, La Trobe University, Melbourne, Victoria.

Building on a triangularly anchored theoretical framework comprising practice, narrative and performative theories, the main objective of this study was to explore and understand how strategy and accounting practices are constructed and performed in a university, what are the effects of and relationships between these practices, and what relevance and implications these practices have on a university’s operations. A qualitative case study was undertaken involving 40 face-to-face interviews, observations of events and analysis of organisational documents with a university. It was found that the strategy and accounting practices of the university were primarily constituted and implemented by a nexus of strategic and accounting doings and sayings. In particular, various calculative practices and measures were integral in the development and implementation of a new strategic plan. Once the plan was developed, it was maintained through various quantified strategic narratives. In many instances, accounting was found to be an engine for strategizing and financialising at the university level and operational levels through the various rules, understandings and teleoaffective structures it created. The university’s new strategic objectives were primarily made strategic through their mobilisation with accounting. This study makes several contributions. Theoretically, it extends the knowledge generated by the emerging practice and performative approaches examining the strategy and accounting relationship by providing more detailed and new insights into the literature. Empirically, the study generates evidence about the role and impact of financial management and accounting on universities’ strategic management practices. Finally, it provides practical guidance for higher education practitioners who are considering strategizing and accounting practices in their institutions.


Center or Department

College of Arts, Social Sciences and Commerce. La Trobe Business School. Department of Accounting and Data Analytics.

Thesis type

  • Ph. D.

Awarding institution

La Trobe University

Year Awarded


Rights Statement

This thesis contains third party copyright material which has been reproduced here with permission. Any further use requires permission of the copyright owner. The thesis author retains all proprietary rights (such as copyright and patent rights) over all other content of this thesis, and has granted La Trobe University permission to reproduce and communicate this version of the thesis. The author has declared that any third party copyright material contained within the thesis made available here is reproduced and communicated with permission. If you believe that any material has been made available without permission of the copyright owner please contact us with the details.

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