Diffusion of the Balanced Scorecard: motives for adoption, design choices, organisational fit, and consequences

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The purpose of this exploratory study is to understand how the motives behind a Balanced Scorecard (BSC) adoption affect the BSC's design, organisational fit, and consequences from a diffusion theory perspective. Using semi-structured interviews, we follow up on three organisations that are long-term adopters of the BSC. We find that the motives for adopting the BSC do not follow the conventional model whereby early adopters have economic (rational) and late adopters non-economic (social) motives, but that these motives interact during the diffusion process. These organisations reframed the BSC and bundled it with other practices to achieve a better cultural, technical and political fit (i.e. top-management-related factors and IT systems). Cultural misfits are the most formative and can overpower technical and political aspects of fit. This has led to management practices that differ from the original design of the BSC. Also, we critically assess consequences of the BSC adoptions. Even adopters emphasising economic motives for adopting the BSC did not attempt to assess its ex-post financial impact. Thereby, our study contributes a critical view on fashionable management innovations.

Original languageEnglish
JournalAccounting Forum
Number of pages27
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 01.07.2021

    Research areas

  • adoption, Balanced Scorecard, critical management studies, diffusion as classification, diffusion theory, organizational culture, performance measurement, upper echelons
  • Management studies