The development of public accountability for universities in New Zealand from 2000 to 2014 – applying Public Accountability Index to universities ‘annual reports’
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Accountability can prevent peculation of public property and makes the transfer of funds more transparent to citizens. It is relevant to social expectations and attitudes that always change. This study explores the trends in public accountability of New Zealand universities. It applies the Public Accountability Index (PAI) developed by Coy and Dixon (2004) to eight New Zealand universities’ annual reports from years 2000 to 2012 to assess the development of public accountability in this public sector. Coy and Dixon applied the PAI to New Zealand universities for the period 1985-2000. This study extends their study to give an overview of public accountability in New Zealand tertiary education institutions over the last 12 years. This study uses legitimacy theory to explain the trend of public accountability. It finds that the information disclosed in annual reports of universities has changed over the years in terms of format, content, and length. Public accountability improved significantly from 1985 to 1996. However, the overall public accountability remained at the same level from 2000 to 2012. The study concludes that the changes of accountability practices is somewhat motivated by the legislative changes.