AC312      Half Unit
Performance Measurement, Strategy, and Uncertainty

This information is for the 2020/21 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Tommaso Palermo KSW.3.07


This course is available on the BSc in Accounting and Finance, BSc in Econometrics and Mathematical Economics, BSc in Economics and Diploma in Accounting and Finance. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit and to General Course students.

Available to students on other undergraduate/Diploma programmes with the permission of the Accounting Departmental Tutor.


Students must have completed Elements of Accounting and Finance (AC100) or Elements of Management Accounting, Financial Management and Financial Institutions (AC103).

Accounting Theory and Practice (AC200) is recommended to complement either AC100 or AC103, but not required.

This course can be taken together with Results Accountability and Management Control for Strategy Implementation (AC311). While AC311 provides an in-depth overview of management control systems in decentralized organizations, AC312 focuses more specifically on one aspect of management control systems, namely performance measurement and the way in which performance measurement is evolving in contemporary organizations to deal with strategy formulation and decision-making under conditions of uncertainty.

Course content

This course examines practical problems that managers and employees are likely to confront in their work in a variety of organizational contexts. The fundamental issue is: how do you know when you have performed well? This question draws attention to the way in which performance is measured, visualised and assessed via performance measurement tools and frameworks, how performance measures and other sources of data are related to strategy formulation and decision-making, and the way in which strategy formulation and performance measurement can be adapted to confront increasingly volatile and uncertain business contexts.

The course addresses these themes in two modules. The first module identifies key concepts and tools of performance measurement and how they can be used, through means including monitoring, reporting, and contracting, to influence behaviour. The module concludes with a practical exercise which revolves around the design of an interactive performance dashboard. The second module examines two approaches to deal with uncertainty as part of strategy formulation and performance measurement.  The first focuses on how organisations can exploit large datasets to better understand and possibly predict key performance management variables. The second focuses on the design and use of risk management processes. As for the first module, key concepts are put into practice via exercises and case discussions revolving around the use of data analytics, risk mapping and risk indicators design.

Aided by academic literature, examples taken from the financial and popular press, and case studies, AC312 provides students with valuable insights into how performance measurement approaches can vary across contexts, and how several situational factors, including business context, organisational structure, culture and behavioural variables influence them. Some cases will involve real-world data and the potential use of data analytics for strategy formulation, performance measurement and decision-making.


30 hours of seminars in the LT.

Comprising 10 weeks of twice-weekly 1.5 hour sessions. There will be a reading week in Week 6.

Formative coursework

The course makes extensive use of case studies. Students are expected to contribute to the case discussions in each session.

Indicative reading

No single book covers the entire course. Key readings include:

  • Ittner, C.D. & Larcker, D.F. (2003). Coming up short on nonfinancial performance measurement. Harvard Business Review, November, 88-95;
  • Narayanan, V.G., Brem, L., Packard, M. (2013) Delta/Signal Corp. Harvard Business School Case 112-048;
  • Van der Stede, W. A., Palermo, T. (2011). Scenario budgeting: Integrating risk and performance. Finance & Management 184(1), 10–13;
  • COSO (2010), Developing key risk indicators to strengthen enterprise risk management;
  • Lawson, R. (2019). Management accounting competencies: Fit for purpose in a digital age? Institute of Management Accountants (IMA), April.

The following books provide an overview of key themes addressed in the course:

  • Bhimani, A., Horngren, C.T., Datar, S.M., Rajan, M. (2019) Management and Cost Accounting, 7th Edition, Pearson Publishing.
  • Neely, A. (Ed.). (2007). Business performance measurement: Unifying theory and integrating practice. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


Take-home assessment (75%) and group project (25%).

Assessment consists of two components, one based on individual work and the other on group work:

  • A take-home assessment.
  • A group project involving an analysis of a case.

The final mark for AC312 is composed as follows:

  • Group project......................25%
  • Take-home assessment.......75%

Further details of all aspects of assessment and coursework, as well as feedback, will be made available on Moodle nearer the scheduled start time of the course and will be updated as the course progresses with specific instructions, guidance, and feedback.

Important information in response to COVID-19

Please note that during 2020/21 academic year some variation to teaching and learning activities may be required to respond to changes in public health advice and/or to account for the situation of students in attendance on campus and those studying online during the early part of the academic year. For assessment, this may involve changes to mode of delivery and/or the format or weighting of assessments. Changes will only be made if required and students will be notified about any changes to teaching or assessment plans at the earliest opportunity.

Key facts

Department: Accounting

Total students 2019/20: Unavailable

Average class size 2019/20: Unavailable

Capped 2019/20: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Leadership
  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Application of information skills
  • Communication
  • Commercial awareness