Creating a sustainable college performance evaluation in China

Zhang, Luxi and Sorrell, David and Adams, Paul and Adamson, Bob; Savelyeva, T and Gao, F, eds. (2022) Creating a sustainable college performance evaluation in China. In: Sustainable Tertiary Education in Asia. Springer, Singapore, pp. 191-208. ISBN 9789811951046 (

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In recent decades, the prevalence of neo-liberal discourses in education governance has promoted the trend of performance evaluation in higher education institutions around the world. In Chinese universities, the Double-First Class initiative necessitated the introduction of an effective academic output measurement system. The mainly quantitative, results-oriented nationwide college performance evaluation (CPE) became a requisite staff appraisal system in all state-owned Chinese universities from 2007. However, after more than a decade of implementing CPE, China is still facing challenges in its development. Some university teachers contend that the implementation of CPE lacks legitimacy or rationality. Based on a case study in a Chinese university with analysis of documents, email messages, and teacher and leader interviews, this paper draws upon positioning theory to understand the challenges and tensions that led to staff’s compliance and resistance to CPE. It finds that cross-national policy referencing is fraught with complexity, and suggests that local appropriation is important in ensuring that a policy is viable. The findings have implications for future effective implementation of CPE.