Performance measurement in urban development: unfolding a case of sustainability KPIs reporting

Loai Alsaid, Charles Ambilichu

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This study aims to explore the potential dynamics between performance measurement at the organisational level and emerging urban development projects at the macro-institutional field level of sustainability governance and accountability.


Using a theoretical triangulation between three theories, namely contingency theory, institutional theory and social cognitive theory, this study investigates not only the macro-micro dynamics, but also the (recursive) micro-macro dynamics between performance measurement and urban development. Using an Egyptian public sector urban development organisation and its sustainable energy project as an empirical example, interviews, documents and observations were collected.


The dynamics emerged between field urban development projects and the (unintended) organisational implementation of the performance measurement system, the sustainability key performance indicators (KPIs) reporting system. Contributing to previous literature, these dynamics have been institutionalised through (three) interrelated levels: the (macro-field) urban development contingencies and pressures for sustainability KPIs reporting, the (organisational) institutionalisation of the urban development performance measurement system and then the (micro-organisational) cognitive role of sustainability KPIs reports in (re)making political urban development decisions.

Research limitations/implications

This study faced some limitations that paved the way for future research axes. For political and security reasons, difficulties were encountered in conducting interviews with government actors in the sustainable energy project under study. Also, due to the practical separation of the environmental sustainability system from the sustainability KPIs reporting system in this case study, environmental sustainability is outside the scope.

Practical implications

Sustainability reports may influence public sector decision-making processes in a specific urban development context. These KPIs reports may also increase public sector management opportunities for urban auditing, transparency, accountability and sustainability governance. These KPIs may also guide public sector management to lower prices in poor villages to increase smart energy consumption and improve community health.

Social implications

Sustainability reports may increase decision-makers' understanding of consumer behaviours and societal changes. This may help in making appropriate political decisions to improve their welfare and regular smart energy consumption. Not only urban citizens, but this social advantage may also extend to urban development employees through employees' promotion, training and access to government-funded academic and professional scholarships.


This study is an attempt to develop current public sector performance measurement analyses in the emerging urban development field using a triadic analytical approach. This study also fed the literature with an extended case study that clarified the (multi-level) and (two-way) dynamics between performance measurement and urban development.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)(In-Press)
Number of pages27
JournalJournal of Accounting in Emerging Economies
Early online date26 Jan 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 26 Jan 2023


  • Performance measurment
  • Urban development
  • Sustainability KPIs reporting
  • Contingency theory
  • Institutional theory
  • Social cognitive theory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business, Management and Accounting(all)


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