Mapping what matters in New Zealand museums : stakeholder perspectives on museum performance and accountability : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Management and Museum Studies, Massey University Albany, Auckland, New Zealand
Accountability for museum performance was investigated in the context of New Zealand's public museums. Governing bodies account for museum performance through published annual reports, while performance assessment assists museum managers to achieve museums' objectives. Museum professionals also have expectations of museums. This research questioned whether museums were reporting on the aspects of their performance that mattered to a wider range of stakeholders. The research is both descriptive and exploratory. A nationwide survey of museum directors gathered data about performance assessment at publicly-funded museums where one or more paid staff made management decisions. The Survey's descriptive findings, covering experiences and views of museum assessment practice, set the wider context for an exploratory Case Study of a large museum, combining qualitative and quantitative methods. Various groups of stakeholders identified aspects of the case museum's performance that matter to them and the ways in which they might assess them. Maori perspectives were contributed by several participants, a recognition of the importance of taonga Maori collections in New Zealand museums. Diverse museum stakeholders co-created statements as potential performance assessment criteria. A concept mapping process, involving these statements, revealed distinct conceptual elements of the construct, an 'effectively performing museum', reflecting the respondent groups' differing realities, yet much common ground. Three analytical approaches, functional, structural and cultural, compared and contrasted the concepts and their relative importance. The research identified dimensions of museum performance that could contribute to an integrated framework for museum performance assessment meaningful to a wider range of stakeholders. A conceptual model for museum accountability was developed. Findings suggest that museum performance indicators in New Zealand should extend beyond a focus on visitor numbers and satisfaction to include collection health, staffing quality, Maori concerns and community relationships. Assessment of these factors would enable museums to better account for their performance as community assets.