What have we learned? Themes from the literature on best-practice benchmarking

Francis, Graham and Holloway, Jacky (2007). What have we learned? Themes from the literature on best-practice benchmarking. International Journal of Management Reviews, 9(3) pp. 171–189.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-2370.2007.00204.x


The aim of this paper is to review the important themes in the literature on benchmarking, and to assess the contribution to knowledge provided thus far. Four themes from the literature are highlighted: studies of the nature of benchmarking practice; criticisms of benchmarking; evaluating the effectiveness of benchmarking; and the notion of best practice. The authors argue that, while the literature does include a few critical analyses of the practice and impacts of benchmarking, it is dominated by relatively descriptive, and even prescriptive, accounts of the ‘realities’ of benchmarking. The longer-term qualitative and quantitative) effects and perspectives of diverse stakeholders on benchmarking are largely
neglected. This selective focus has implications for the contribution of benchmarking research to practice, for example, in terms of the role of internal organizational capabilities in analysing the performance of processes and managing communications and change. The authors advocate areas of future research to improve theoretical understanding of benchmarking and thoroughly evaluate its impact within the context of performance management.

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