How do universities encourage academics to buy into a shared vision while often setting punitive targets in teaching and research? This article explores possible antecedents of a university’s shared vision and its relationships with academics’ research and teaching performance in the era of managerialism. This cross-country study of two large universities in the UK and Vietnam draws on data from multiple sources to uncover the key components of a university’s shared vision. A survey strategy was adopted. Data were collected from different sources, using a stratified random sampling technique from academics of different schools at those universities. A total of 431 survey responses from academics at these universities were included for analysis, employing structure equation modelling. It provides fresh insights into whether having a shared vision can benefit academics’ research and teaching performance. The findings of this study show that while achieving a high degree of shared vision may enhance research performance, it may do little to improve teaching performance. The study provides empirical evidence indicating that a shared vision emerges as strongly rooted within individual employees rather than managers, challenging the common belief that a shared vision emanates primarily from the top down. This article advances social exchange theory (SET) by showing the interdependence of workplace antecedents, personal attributes, interpersonal connections, and performance. It introduces a framework for the relationship between universities’ shared vision with its possible antecedents and with academics’ teaching performance and research performance. The article also discusses useful implications for higher education leaders, based on the findings of the study.