Managing the performance of arts organisations: Pursuing heterogeneous objectives in an era of austerity

Aminah Abdullah, Iqbal Khadaroo, Christopher Napier

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This study provides insight into how two national arts organisations located in London manage their performance in the pursuit of heterogeneous objectives, within the confines of external influences. These organisations significantly rely on the government for funding and are therefore required to implement policy initiatives, albeit at arm’s length from the government. Performance management systems (PMSs) were primarily designed to enable trustees discharge their statutory duties of collecting, preserving, and displaying objects and works of arts, which were reflected in a management agreement containing the government’s strategic priorities. The findings show that the changing politico-economic climate has subtly started to change values, accountability relationships and realities in the field of arts and culture. Whilst arts organisations emphasised socio-cultural objectives in strategic planning and operational processes, external pressures arising from austerity has subtly started to displace socio-cultural values. Business language, vocabularies, and tools commonly used in the private sector are insidiously taking roots in arts organisations. Austerity provided a signal to executives that the survival of their core activities was at stake and, they have to engage in income generating activities to support their core activities.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)174-184
Number of pages11
JournalBritish Accounting Review
Issue number2
Early online date4 Oct 2017
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2018


  • Performance management systems
  • Control
  • Museums
  • Art Galleries
  • Austerity

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