The aim of this paper is to understand what factors affect the thoroughness of the information provided by Italian Universities in their Performance Plans. The recent reforms that characterized the Italian Higher Education led a full revision of the administrative apparatus. It not only encompassed a switch from cash accounting to accrual accounting, but suddenly gained wider strategic relevance, as attention is also devoted to the coherence between planning activities and reporting outcomes in order to ensure transparency and broader accountability. Hence, drawing on the legitimacy theory, we conducted a panel analysis with fixed effects on data gathered through a meaning-oriented content analysis of 132 Plans. The findings show that, early transition to accrual accounting, the adoption of management accounting tools and geographical position influence the thoroughness of disclosure towards specific accountability and legitimacy wishes. The findings offer noteworthy contributions not limited to the academic debate, but valuable for policy makers and practitioners.
Keywords: Italian Universities, Performance Plans, disclosure, legitimacy, thor-oughness