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Perform or else: The performative enhancement of teacher professionalism
Teacher professionalization
Performance management
Enhanced performance management system
Speech act theory
Issue Date: 
Liew, W. M. (2012). Perform or else: The performative enhancement of teacher professionalism. Asia Pacific Journal of Education, 32(3), 285-303.
The Singapore Ministry of Education’s Enhanced Performance Management System (EPMS) was instituted in 2005 as a system of professional accountability to enhance the standards and stakes of teacher professionalism in schools. This essay explores how the EPMS, with its underlying paradigm of performance management, functions as a “technology of discipline” (Foucault, 1977) within the political economy of teacher professionalization in Singapore. The analysis centres on the discursive mechanisms of a standardised appraisal instrument known as the Work Review Form. Applying speech act theory via the insights of Austin (1962) and Butler (1993, 1997), I argue that teachers’ professional qualities are not only described and prescribed but also produced by the appraisal protocols of the EPMS – a process contingent on the discursive performativity of the Work Review Form. Implicated in this notion of performativity are the rhetorical manoeuvres by which teachers perform “on paper” under the pressure to perform. Such performance pressures point to a range of ethical ambiguities surrounding the “enhanced management” of teachers’ work under the profitmotive of performance excellence.
This is the final draft, after peer-review, of a manuscript published in the Asia Pacific Journal of Education. The published version is available online at
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