This article describes a study which evaluated the relevance of quality to institutional performance assessment in higher education. A set of scales suitable for the valid and reliable (i.e. precise) self-rating of the effectiveness of higher education institutions in Hong Kong was developed. The method of scale development served to test the applicability of the nine effectiveness dimensions contained in the Competing Values Model of Organizational Effectiveness (Quinn and Rohrbaugh, 1981, 1983) to institutional performance assessment in Hong Kong higher education. One of the nine effectiveness dimensions is quality. Application of the scale development method failed to produce a scale capable of the valid and reliable self-rating of the quality dimension. The study highlighted the multidimensional and imprecise nature of the quality concept. It is argued that additional concepts, such as those proposed in the study, are necessary to inject precision into institutional performance assessment. ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]; Copyright of Evaluation is the property of Sage Publications, Ltd. and its content may not be copied or emailed to multiple sites or posted to a listserv without the copyright holder's express written permission. However, users may print, download, or email articles for individual use. This abstract may be abridged. No warranty is given about the accuracy of the copy. Users should refer to the original published version of the material for the full abstract.