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The study reports an evidence of the efficiency and usefulness of the Balanced Score Card (BSC) as a management control and communication strategy. This paper firstly examines the available literature on management control and communication which has identified elements of strategic control and effective communication. Secondly, this study presents a model of control and communication significant to the Balanced Score Card. Thirdly, the study further investigates archival and practical interviews data to represent the utilization and also evaluates the effectiveness of control and communication of the Balanced Score Card.
The study incorporates data collected from the various departments of a large, international manufacturing company. Data is collected from Indian administrators, managers and the Balanced Score Card designers whose divisions are the purpose of Balanced Score Card. The study congregates evidences in respect to the challenges encountered by many and as in this case even by a large, well financed multinational corporation associated with the implementation and designing the Balanced Score Card. These results may be broadly suitable to other companies planning to adopt or adopting the Balanced Score Card as a management and strategic control tool.
The data points out that this particular Balanced Score Card, as applied and designed, is definitely an effective tool for managing corporate strategy. Obtained results also illustrate stress and divergence amongst the top and the middle level management concerning the suitability of certain aspects of the Balanced Score Card as an evaluation, communication and control mechanism. Certain aspects include conformation of laid-back relations amongst successful management control, positive effects, motivation and strategic alignment of the Balanced Score Card. These positive effects include the changes in development and implementation of both the customer focused services and the Balanced Score Card. In contrary, unsuccessful management control and communication originate conflicts and acts as a source of poor motivation in respect of the use of Balanced Score Card as an assessment device.
All the data gathered for this research is regulated and supplied under a strict non-disclosure agreement, which necessitates the researcher to safeguard the company’s proprietary information and identity.
The available academic and professional strategy literature asserts that numerous multi-nationals have discovered time-honoured performance measures (e.g., profits, return on investment, and ex post costs) to be inadequate strategies for judgmental action in today’s speedily changing, super-competitive environment. Solitary dependence on present, financial performance measures does not perhaps mirror the significance of present resource verdicts for upcoming financial performance (e.g., Dearden, 1969).
However, several years ago, some organisations identified the significance of non-financial performance measures (e.g., General Electric during 1950’s), budding global competition and the mounting up of the TQM movement has broadened the appeal for non-financial measures of performance. Authors have piled up, both the academic and professional literature with suggestions to believe more on non-financial performance measures for both evaluating and managing organisations since the 1980’s (Berliner and Brimson 1988; Dixon et al. 1990; Johnson and Kaplan 1987; Nanni et al. 1988; Rappaport 1999).
Along with the normative arguments, empirical research studies can also help in establishing the effectiveness and roles of non-financial measures of performance. Numerous studies have attempted to relate some specific non-financial performance measures to the financial performance (Ittner and Larcker 1998a; Behn and Riley 1999; Foster and Gupta 1999; Banker et al. 2000).1 Results of numerous human resources literature illustrates that, it’s the systems of non-financial performance measures that seems to be comparatively more reliable determinant of firm’s performance than the individual measures themselves. (Huselid 1995; Huselid et al. 1997; Becker and Huselid 1998). The purpose of this research is to study the impact and process of administering an organisation using the non-financial measures of
1 The ever rising body of research study which has examined empirical associations amongst the financial and the non-financial performance measures in a variety of industries and firms also includes Foster and Gupta (1990, 1999), Banker et al. (1993), Barth and McNichols (1994), Banker et al. (1995), Amir and Lev (1996), Banker et al.(1996), Ittner and Larcker (1997, 1998a), Perera et al. (1997), Behn and Riley (1999), Banker et al. (2000), Ghosh and Lusch (2000), Hughes (2000).
These research studies repeatedly found significant associations the financial and non-financial measures of performance, although research studies of the effects of performance of including the non-financial measures in the compensation plans are comparatively less steady and consistent. Given the growing empirical and extensive theoretical support, it is not at-all astonishing that several companies report that they are switching to non-financial, forward-looking information for both evaluating present performance as well as for guiding decisions (Ittner and Larcker, 1998b). Performance, particularly in the context of Balanced Scorecard (BSC), a comprehensive structure of performance measurement system.
The Balanced Score Card, popularized by Kaplan and Norton (1992, 1993, 1996a, 1996b, 1996c) and also accepted extensively across the globe, has been presented as a better and superior blend of financial and the non-financial measures of performance. 2 Balanced Score Card is projected to direct strategy growth, execution and communication because it clearly focuses on the financial as well as the non-financial measures of performance. Moreover, a well designed Balanced Score Card could also provide some unfailing feedback for performance evaluation and management control.
Atkinson et al. (1997) regarded Balanced Score Card as one of the most momentous developments in the field of management accounting, justifiably attaining a strong research attention. Silk (1998) assessed that approximately 60 percent of the U.S. Fortune 500 companies are experimenting or have by now implemented a Balanced Score Card. Despite its elevated profile, astonishingly very little academic research has actually focused on either the outcomes or the claims of the Balanced Score Card (Ittner and Larcker 1998b).
An expected question that arise is: does the Balanced Score Card’s use, content, implementation or format have recognizable effects on either the outcomes or the business decisions that could not be achieved with existing ways, in combination or alone? In the very first study of its category, Lipe and Salterio(2000) identified effects in decision making connected with the format of the Balanced Score Card. The layout of the performance measures in four associated groups appears to communicate decision-related information to subjects presenting a laboratory assessment task. Most of the other previous and current studies, however, are comparatively uncritical explanations of Balanced Score Card adoptions.
Kaplan and Norton (1996b) debates that the Balanced Score Card is not principally an evaluation process, but it is a communication and strategic planning device to (1) explain links amongst leading and lagging measures of non-financial and financial performance and (2) offer some strategic assistance to the divisional managers. The Balanced Score Card asserts to describe the necessary steps for reaching financial success; for example, investment in some particular types of knowledge to improve the processes. If these links are valid replications of a company’s economic opportunities and productive and administrative
2 An identical approach for merging the numerous performance measures, the tableau de bord, has been implemented by certain French organisations for numerous years (Epstein and Manzoni 1997).
processes, then the Balanced Score Card symbolizes and can also communicate the company’s working strategy. Moreover, communicating these links effectively throughout the company can be decisive to implementing that strategy fruitfully (Tucker et al. 1996; West and Meyer 1997). Some organisations may possibly also use non-financial measures as a basis of performance measurement. On the other hand, they might judicially use the financial performance measures for the purpose of evaluation or they can also enhance the performance by using the Balanced Score Card as a vade mecum to financial success (e.g., Rappaport 1999).
The present research is aimed at investigating the management-control and communication attributes and the efficacy of a successful, large, multi-national company’s Balanced Score Card model. The research comprises of qualitative and archival data gathered through interviews with the managers, Balanced Score Card designers, and users to (1) measure the observed attributes of the Balanced Score Card as both a control and strategic communication device and (2) find confirmation of the Balanced Score Card’s evaluation impacts. The present research does not test as to if the company’s Balanced Score Card is a statistically suitable model of the company’s performance and activities. This attribute of the Balanced Score Card shall be tested in succeeding research (Malina 2001).
The company commenced using the Balanced Score Card to enhance its strategy. The Balanced Score Card has largely affected the view point and the action of users, both adversely and beneficially. When all segments of the Balanced Score Card are effectively communicated and well designed (as per the criteria mentioned in the study), the Balanced Score Card appears to persuade and inspire the lower-level managers to correspond their activities to the company’s strategy. Additionally, as per managers beliefs these changes result in enhanced sub-unit performance.
In spite of this, there is also a consistent confirmation that the weaknesses in strategic communication and the flaws and imperfections of the Balanced Score Card design have affected the relationships amongst some middle and top level managers adversely. The stress survives because the Balanced Score Card design aggravated strong differences amongst their views of upcoming future opportunities. Gaps and weaknesses in communication generate unwillingness and mistrust to change. While certain specific shortcomings and flaws could be exceptionally unique to the company studied, these results appear to reflect largely on the issues of the Balanced Score Card uses and its design.
The second section of this research study builds up a research question on the basis of reviewing the literature on communication standing by the features of effectual communication of strategy. The third section then builds up another research question with a synopsis of the attributes of management control tools that successfully control strategy. The fourth section later illustrates the company’s Balanced Score Card and the research site. Then the fifth section discusses about the practices used to analyze and obtain the qualitative and archival interview data.
This part also displays a theoretical model for describing the effectiveness of the Balanced Score Card. The following sixth section then derives an empirical model for the effectiveness of the Balanced Score Card and also addresses the raised research questions. Lastly, the final section of this study encapsulates the conclusions and also offers certain suggestion for future research.
The Balanced Score Card and Communication of the Strategy
Kaplan and Norton (1996 c) states that, “by articulating the outcomes the organization desires as well as the drivers of those outcomes (by using the Balanced Score Card), senior executive can channel the energies, the abilities, and the specific knowledge held by people throughout the organisation towards achieving the business’s long-term goals.” Therefore, Kaplan and Norton (1996 c) claims that not merely just the Balanced Score Card exemplifies or helps to create organizational knowledge and strategy, however even the Balanced Score Card itself effectively communicates knowledge and strategy.
Merchant (1989) contends that failure in communication is one of the main reasons for poor organizational performance. Because neither the organization’s strategy nor its knowledge succeeds or exists apart from its chief human actors, the capability to communicate effectively may itself be a basis of competitive benefit (Amit and Shoemaker 1990; Grant 1991; Schulze 1992; Daft and Lewin 1993; Tucker et al. 1996). If the Balanced Score Card does articulate the organizations strategy and knowledge in a better manner, then it could act as a foundation of competitive advantage, at-least until all other competitors implement it equally well. However, the organisational communiqué literature recognizes an intricate set of features that influence the effectiveness or quality of communication in the organisations.
Based upon a review of the present literature, an organisations communication system or device could be characterized with the elements of its (1) exchange and creation of knowledge, (2) support of the organisational culture, and (3) messages and processes. These communication characteristics have been briefly reviewed below:
· Exchange and Creation of Knowledge
Knowledge, which could be a tactic or an objective, is the foundation of strategy implementation and formulation.3 Thus, an effectual system of communication holds up an organisations strategy by fostering both tactic and objective knowledge. An effective system
3 Objective knowledge is expressible and observable in the normal language – outcomes and production processes, for instance. However, unspoken language is understood and known but it is not easy to convey in language – an individual’s insights or experiences, for instance. This subsection draws greatly from Tucker et al. (1996).
of communication exchanges the objectives (observable) of knowledge amongst the most important individuals so that everyone is aware of the organisations present status. Organisations construct objective knowledge from the integration and development of the new knowledge by individual experts. Objective knowledge generally derives itself from the sharing and refining of the individuals tactic knowledge, which is recognized but not yet usable or articulated by the organisation.
Thus, a system of effective communication enables and encourages the individuals to share their experiences and also gathers those shared experiences. This may best possibly be accomplished by frequent and intense sharing, and might also be by dialogue rather than a one-dimensional reporting. Perhaps significantly for the effectiveness of the Balanced Score Card, de Haas and Kleingeld (1999) further debates that participating in the design of the performance measurement system is an essential element of an effective communication of strategy.
· Support of Values, Beliefs and Culture
As per the traditional sight of an effective organisational communication, it supports individual interests and the organisational culture by focusing on certain desired patterns of beliefs, shared values, and behaviour. Effectual communication exhibits that the organisation accomplishes its promises and that group or individual rewards are predicted based upon their actions (Goodman 1998; Tucker et al. 1996). Communiqué by leaders which steadily articulates shared values, beliefs and goals (Goodman 1998; Tucker et al. 1996) is also efficient in directing behaviour and reinforcing culture. Moreover, effectual communication ought to encourage behaviour coherent with organisational values, beliefs and goals (Goodman 1998).
Kaplan and Norton (2000), the proponents of the Balanced Score Card, debates that it can also be a tool of strategic and cultural change. Coherent with Kotter’s (1995) study of change processes, the Balanced Score Card could facilitate change by effectively communicating and creating a convincing realistic vision of and also a method for attaining change.
· Communication Messages and Processes
Individuals make use of and rely on communication only if its messages and processes are observed as trustworthy and understandable. Other features of effectual organisational communication procedures are reliability, predictability, completeness, and routineness (Tucker et al. 1996; Goodman 1998; Barker and Camarata 1998). Besides this, communication is also more successful if it applies well defined terms and concise messages (Goodman 1998). Moreover, effectual communications system prevents misrepresentation of performance or repression of truth.
There should be no equivocation concerning the differences between “looking good” and truthfulness or coherence with winning. An effective system of communication and its operators will be indignant of “spin, deniability, and truth by assertion” (Goodman 1998). As a result, organisational communication shall be effectual if the messages and processes are a valid and convincing representation of the performance.
In a nutshell, effectual organisational communication strategies should hold the recognizable attributes of:
· Knowledge sharing – including participation and dialogue
· Support and assistance of organisational culture – changing or existing
· Valid messages - trustworthy, understandable and reliable
The organisational communication literature foresees that a Balanced Score Card, which comprises of these above mentioned attributes, shall create positive organisational outcomes, positive motivation, and strategic alignment. The foremost research area shall be:
Question 1: Is the Balanced Score Card an (in) effective device for communication, creating (negative) positive organisational outcomes, (in) effective motivation, and (non) alignment?
The Balanced Score Card and The Management Control of The Strategy
general condemnation of managing the organisations on the basis of financial performance measures is that these measures persuade the managers to make short-run, myopic decisions. The financial measures incline to emphasise on the present impacts of the decisions, lacking an obvious link between long run strategy and the short run actions (current criticisms include Luft and Shields , McKenizie and Schilling ). Moreover, the traditional financial performance measures could work in opposition to the knowledge based strategies by considering the enrichment of resources like human capital, which might be crucial to implementing a strategy, such as current expenses (e.g., Johnson 1992).
Dixon et al (1990) debates that the time-honoured financial measures, by dispensing costs of many developments, as well work opposing to the strategies based on reduction of manufacturing time, flexibility and quality. For numerous lower level employees, most of the financial measures of performance are excessively comprehensive and also very far isolated from their actions to offer helpful feedback or guidance on their decisions.
They may need certain measures that relate more accurately and directly to the outcomes that they can persuade. (McKenize and Schilling 1998). A numerous studies have found proof that the financial, traditional performance measures are utmost helpful in conditions of low complexity and relative uncertainty; and not in the conditions faced by many trans-national organisations today (e.g., Abernethy and Brownwell 1997; Govindarajan and Gupta 1985; Govindarajan 1984; Gordon and Naranyan 1984).
Lynch and Cross (1995) debates that all set performance measures should motivate the behaviour contributing to constant improvement and development in certain vital areas of competition, such as productivity, flexibility, and customer satisfaction. Therefore, they should replicate a cause and effect amongst strategic outcomes and operational behaviour (Keegan et al. 1989; Ittner and Larcker 1998a).4 Moreover, as and how an organisation recognizes new strategic goals, it shall also comprehend a requirement for new measures of performance to persuade and supervise its new actions (Dixon et al. 1990).
4 Contemplation of the time lags might be really important for illustrating these cause and effect relationships (e.g., Norreklit 2000, Banker et al. 2000).
Hence, organisations optimally and perhaps sensibly might implement a varied set of measures of performance to demonstrate the diversity of management efforts and decisions (e.g., Ittner and Larcker 1998b; Feltham and Xie 1994; Banker and Datar 1989; Homstrom 1979). The empirical evidences in support of these propositions is narrow and limited but growing.5
The Case of Management Control For The Balanced Score Card
Kaplan and Norton (1996 b) had organized various measures of performance into the Balanced Score Card, which is itself a admissible expression in most of the Western business management models.6 Indeed, the Balanced Score Card might have diffused extensively throughout the globe on the power of its internal logic and intuition. Kaplan and Norton (1996b) asserts that the Balanced Score Card offers two noteworthy improvements over the traditional non financial or even the financial performance measures.
Firstly, the Balanced Score Card discovers four associated fields of activity that might be crucial to almost all organisations and also to all levels inside the organisation:
· Increasing financial success
· Providing Customer value
· Improving the effectiveness of internal processes
· Investing in growth and learning capabilities
Following the rationale of the Balanced Score Card and disregarding the cost benefit considerations, almost every organisation can implement measures in all the four areas to persuade and supervise actions suitable to organisational strategy. An appropriately constructed Balanced Score Card in its utmost basic use, can offer a complete picture of the status of an organisation, similar to a vehicle’s dashboard showing temperature, oil pressure, fuel levels, speed, engine RPM and coolant.
5 For instance, Banker et al. Offers empirical support with the help of widespread time series data in a service firm for the relations amongst lagging financial performance and principal non-financial measures. Moreover, they employ an event-learning method to locate beneficial performance results from incorporating these non-financial measures in the management performance assessments.
6 The advocates of EVA® or economic value added, also assert improvements over the traditional financial performance measures, but that is also a synopsis of the financial measure, even though the one that rectifies for the claimed financial reporting faults and errors. EVA® do not integrate the non-financial, complementary performance measures.
Therefore, the Balanced Score Card could encourage positive and constructive organisational outcomes like improvements and developments in all the four areas of organisational activity, which comprises of administrative activities and the Balanced Score Card itself. Evaluating this first level of usefulness and effectiveness is the major objective of this study. Moreover, the Balanced Score Card also seeks to connect these measures into one model so as to accurately replicate the cause and effect relationship amongst the individual measures and the categories.
Employing the automobile correspondence, the Balanced Score Card encourages a change in the car’s performance (e.g., speed) specified a designed increase in the engine RPM and fuel consumption (and maybe other factors). A model like this may back-up operational decisions, provide trustworthy feedback for performance evaluation and learning, and make forecasts of results given environmental conditions and the decisions.7
The Role of The Balanced Score Card for Performance Measurement and Strategy Implementation
The proponents of the Balanced Score Card emphasise its alliance of the critical measures with the links and the strategy of the measures to the valued outcomes. Additionally, the literature on management control recognizes other features of the control systems that might be crucial for the successful operation and implementation of the strategy and shall apply to the Balanced Score Card.8 To be efficient and effective, Balanced Score Card measures ought to be verifiable, objective, and accurate.
7 Whereas the primary claim for value of the various performance measures would create few debates beyond the considerations of benefit and costs, the secondary claim is a rigorous and bold hypothesis. A potentially testable and literal explanation of the balanced score card is that, it explains lagging, leading, or contemporaneous relations amongst the performance measures. For instance, improvements in growth and learning like reduced time of cycle (e.g., Luft and Shields 1999). Similarly, progress in the in-house processes will predictably result in an enhanced customer value (e.g., market share and satisfaction).
Lastly, progress in the customer value shall lead to some predictable increment in the financial success (e.g., profits). Generating such a coherent and comprehensive model is an inspirational objective which is similar to imitating the business model of the company itself. Achieving such an experiential result shall not establish any causality amongst the balanced score card elements because (1) factors absent from this model might be correlated alongwith both effects and causes, (2) the causes of earnings might not be generalizable further beyond the context of a particular firm (Norreklit 2000), and (3) few of the proposed measures might not be self-governing and independent.
8 Unless otherwise mentioned, this particular section draws from the summaries in Merchant (1989, Chapter 2) and Simon (2000, Chapter 11).
If not, the measures shall be manipulated and will not be able to replicate the performance, or even the managers could in good belief attain good quality measured performance but in-turn cause harm to the organisation. Even if the managers can attain high measured performance by fraud, cheating or any other method, then the system shall lose its required motivational effect and credibility rapidly.
Moreover, the combination of Balanced Score Card measures should entirely illustrate the organisations crucial performance variables; instead it should be restricted in number so as to maintain the measurement system administratively and cognitively simple. A comprehensive set of measures of performance shall accurately replicate the difficulty of the organisations tasks and responsibilities, but a lot of measures might be costly, confusing, and distracting to administer. Nevertheless, Lipe and Salterio (2000) failed to find confirmation of any information overload from the various measures used in their experimental study of the Balanced Score Card.
Optimistic motivational impact persuades managers to put forth effort for achieving the organisational goals. While enlightening but not manageable the performance measures might be essential, optimistic motivation demands that in some way or the other few of the Balanced Score Card measures should replicate manager’s conduct and actions. For instance, relative performance assessment (e.g., across alike business units), which is capable of identifying “influenceable” however, not absolutely controllable results, can be an essential constituent of the Balanced Score Card (e.g., Antle and Demski 1988), but it shall not be adequate by itself. Widespread goal setting researchers validate that the performance should be correlated to demanding but achievable targets (e.g., Locke and Laltham 1990).
Without such unequivocal Balanced Score Card targets, the performance would likely be comparatively lower than what could be realistically achieved. Finally to fabricate the goal commitments, the Balanced Score Card shall be linked to well understood and prompt penalties and rewards. Rewards which are ambiguous, uncertain, or delayed shall be unsuccessful motivational devices.
Consequently, even if an organisation’s Balanced Score Card replicates its crucial performance variables and the links to valued and appreciated outcomes, it might be unproductive and disastrous as a successful management control tool if it lacks the other attributes. For instance, Ittner et al (2000) asserts that bias in a bank’s Balanced Score Card escorted it to both the bank’s deterioration to its interim financial measures of performance and little advantageous impact. To recapitulate, an effective and successful management control device, which is competent to promote required organisational results, shall have the subsequent, apparent management control elements to, firstly, achieve strategic alignment:
· A complete but economical combination of the measures of crucial performance variables, correlated with strategy;
· Crucial performance measures just casually correlated to valued organisational results; and
· Successful and effective – accurate, purpose, and confirmable – measures of performance, which seems to be associated to effectual communication.
Secondly, to further encourage positive motivation, an efficient management control tool should have the attributes of:
· Measures of performance reflecting the managers influenceable actions or/and controllable actions, e.g., measured by relative or/and absolute performance;
· Appropriate standards or performance targets that are demanding but attainable; and
· Performance measures which are associated to meaningful and significant rewards.
The Management control theory forecasts that, if the Balanced Score Card contains these attributes, then it becomes probable that the Balanced Score Card shall encourage positive outcomes and motivation and strategic alignment as well. Consequently, the secondary research area/question which complements the first is:
Question 2: Is the Balanced Score Card an (in) effective device for management control, creating (negative) positive organisational outcomes, (in) effective motivation, and (non) alignment?
Subsequent explanation unfolds the information of a model which replicates the two stated research questions. This model, supported and based on the review of all literature, demonstrates that the Balanced Score Card’s communication characteristics and management control generate results by creating motivation (or not) and strategic alignment. This research also explains about the labour and efforts put in for collecting the data on an applied Balanced Score Card’s organisational communication attributes and management control, along with the facts confirming the Balanced Score Card’s effects on organisational outcomes, motivation, and strategic alignment.
It is audacious to judge the efficiency and the efficacy of the Balanced Score Card against the facts from a non experimental, single Balanced Score Card implementation. Though, a careful and detailed assessment of a crucial case could be generalizable to the theory and instructive (i.e., analytical generalisation, Yin [1994, 10-32]), which in this particular case is that the Balanced Score Card could be an effective management control and strategy communication device.
The Characteristics of Balanced Score Card and The Research Site
Synopsis of The Research Site
The research site is an Indian Economic Times 500 company having over 15000 employees and Rs. 6902 crore of post sales services and other electrical equipments. It is a part of the $3 billion US based group. In 1875, the company was regarded as the first to create the world’s very first “electricity-lit house”. Today, it is one of the largest private sector ventures in India. The company is considered as a well managed, long-standing company.
It has extensively diversified and is also affianced in marketing, manufacturing and designing cutting-edge innovation and technology of electrical products and services associated with distribution and transmission, power generation, other than executing the turnkey projects. The company is succeeding in the highly competitive foreign and domestic markets, categorized by the contest and challenge amongst very large, relatively few, international companies.
The company has lately implemented a quality-and-customer-driven strategy for improving its competitiveness, together with subsequently perceiving the need to inflate its performance management and the management control beyond the traditional, financial measures. The company commenced changing its system of performance measurement with a Balanced Score Card that shall spotlight on a very crucial and important division of the company.
Two and a half years prior to the commencement of this research, the company initiated its implementation and operation of a Distributor Balanced Score Card for its 37 Indian merchants, which were responsible for a huge share of the total amount of sales of the company. The company holds adequate resources to assign the Balanced Score Card responsibilities to the key personnel responsible for championing its continuous implementation and development. These members of staff were given a formal training for the Balanced Score Card and also used the services of an outside consultant for the purpose of training. The Distributors Balanced Score Card was imposed and developed centrally on the distribution network, alongwith a petite initial contribution from the distributors themselves.
Although the company has its clients all across the globe in over 60 countries covering all the 7 continents of the world, the company’s distributors in Asia holds the prime responsibility for the retail sales and service of the company’s products. The distributorships are planned by their geographical location and shall not trade the competing products of any other company. Even though, they are possessed autonomously, but the individuals possessing employment experience and knowledge in the company presently lead 35 of the 37 distributorships. All distributors function under contracts of three year on renewable terms with the company, which are established on the basis of expected and realised future performance.9
The author acquired access into this organisation because of a family relation with a human resource manager of the company and the author.10 In this research, the field based research is serendipitous, however the research site is attractive on objective grounds, a priori, and must have been a top level contender in a deliberate sampling approach.11
To recapitulate, the research site has an elongated history of extensive resources, effective and successful management control, and a pledge to correspond its strategy to the distributors. Moreover, near the beginning of the study researcher observed possible resistance and considerable tension to change amongst the groups affected by the Distributors Balanced Score Card, which, as Ahrens and Dent (1998) advice, generally compose for an occupying study. Therefore, the research site and its Distributors Balanced Score Card projects are perfect for a field based research on the Balanced Score Card.
9 Although this seems to be a new application of the balanced score card, crossing the usual boundaries of a firm, it appears reasonable to anticipate that the balanced score card can be used to communicate and control strategy with the “business associates” in addition to normal employees. This application of the balanced score card might become particularly essential as the firms progressively outsource more and more segments of the value chain.
10 Baxter and Chua (1998) presents a thoughtful paper on the realistic problems associated with conducting field based research study, the foremost of which is attaining admittance to the field sites. The means of admittance might also be a basis of threat to the external and internal validity of field based research (e.g., Atkinson and Shaffir 1998) and also bias. Although a few employees who were contacted by the researcher knew or the known relative of the researcher, the researcher had no other direct link or contact with that relative or her/his direct reports as a component of this research attempt.
However, it is not at-all deniable, that this enhanced researcher’s access, but still might have moderated whatever certain individuals revealed to the researcher. The researcher was unable to ascertain the magnitude or expected direction of any of the “sponsorship” bias, but since the researcher heard apparently unrestrained, considerable criticism of the company’s customs and traditions, it is not at-all felt that any of the realized bias was significant to suppress the criticism.
11 Miles and Huberman (1994) examined that the random sampling is usually an incompetent and ineffective approach for conducting qualitative research, mainly when the research study is driven by theory.
Synopsis of the Distributors Balanced Score Card
· Purpose of the distributors balanced score card
In procession with its latest customer driven strategy, the company changed its distribution strategy recently from that of operational efficiency to that of managing long term customer associations. Until the Distributors Balanced Score Card, the company evaluated its formal distributor’s performance only on the basis of market share and financial performance. Company’s literature and its documents demonstrates that the Distributors Balanced Score Card was designed by the staff personnel’s, top-down not involving any support from the distributors, for communicating the company’s latest retail distribution policy to its existing distributors. The documents of this company stated the rationale of the Distributors Balanced Score Card as to:
· Offer an objective combination of criteria’s, steady alongwith the company’s latest strategic initiatives, for measuring and guiding the total distributor’s performance; and
· Highlight and emphasize on areas within the distributorships needing enhancement to improve the customer relations.
These reasons stand well within the extent of the use of the Balanced Score Card as envisaged by Kaplan and Norton. Nevertheless, administrators and the managers who designed and use the Distributors Balanced Score Card illustrates two supplementary objectives, which encompasses far reaching implications for the management of company’s distribution system:
· The Distributors Balanced Score Card is applied for ranking and comparing distributorships and might also be applied for the purpose of performance based reimbursement; and
· Distributors Balanced Score Card shall be employed as the starting and preparatory step for the purpose of three year process of reviewing contracts.
Because the Distributors Balanced Score Card embraces numerous historically unevaluated areas of measuring performance, it symbolizes a spectacular change in formal relations, interactions, and communication amongst its distributors and the company. Principally, using the Distributors Balanced Score Card for the distributor’s compensation and for renewal of contracts created hesitation and insecurity regarding the effects of the Distributors Balanced Score Card performance at the same time also added momentous economic incentives.
· Structure of the distributors balanced score card
The Distributors Balanced Score Card holds performance measures in all of the four Balanced Score Card perspectives together with another the corporate citizenship, which the company sensed was missing in Kaplan and Norton’s (1996 b) arrangement of the Balanced Score Card.12 Furthermore, the company has also arranged its Distributors Balanced Score Card measures in certain categories to replicate its own culture and priorities.
Although the distributors organized certain Distributors Balanced Score Card measures in “real-time”, the company’s staff disseminates, analyzes, and compiles the Distributors Balanced Score Card every quarter to the distributors and the top level management. One of the internal document (general Balanced Score Card categories revealed in brackets) of the company describes the Distributors Balanced Score Card as:
consist of measures which are classified into groups, that are aligned along with the company’s strategic goals: Competitive Advantage (internal processes and customer value), Growth and Profitability (financial success and internal processes), Investment in the Human Capital (growth and learning), and Corporate citizenship. Another fifth category was adjoined to include certain other measures significant to the distributor’s performance (domestic performance).
Every category comprises of certain specific measures with several specific criteria’s for suitability and acceptability. The outcomes for the measures in every category were to be weighed for determining an overall total score for each of the categories alongwith an overall total score for the distributorship as well.
A synopsis of all the weights and measures presently used in the Distributors Balanced Score Card are stated in Table 1. For the purpose of evaluating it along with the literature, these measures have been arranged into the standard Balanced Score Card categories, but even the company’s placement of these measures in its own categories has been noted.
Both the Distributors Balanced Score Card administrators and the distributors immediately recognized that the Distributors Balanced Score Card’s relative weights replicate the company’s outlook about some of the utmost important areas of performance.13
12 For the purpose of this research study, corporate citizenship has been considered as one of the dimensions of the balanced score card’s customer value.
13 Weights may replicate the strength of the casual associations in the statistically fixed balanced score card, however the statistical examination was not completed for the purpose of this research. It is an area of future research. Therefore, the weights imitated the management’s extent of belief concerning the quality and importance of every measure, as elucidated later.
Distributors Balanced Score Card’s Approximate Weights and Measures
Traditional Balanced Distributor Balanced Score Card Measures Weights
Score Card Categories (Company Category)
Growth and learning Involvement in industry (HC)...................................1
Personal development plans and
Employee skill inventory (HC).............................1
Training (HC)............................................................2 4%
Efficient internal processes Adoption of best practices (CA)................................1
Management’s award of excellence............................3
Customer service, and problems
Solved in 5 hours (CA)................................5
Customer service, and problems
Diagnosed in 60 minutes (CA).....................6
Orders from Customers, First-time fill rate (CA).......2
Day’s outstanding sales (GP).....................................2
Inventory turnover (GP).............................................3
Utilization of service hours (GP)...............................3 41%
Building condition (Other..........................................4
Customer value Customer satisfaction (CA)........................................4
Environmental remediation and assessment (CC)......3
New market share #2 (although no measured
but still available (CA)...............................................3 40%
Traditional share of the market #1
Financial Success Cash flow from the operations, % of sales (GP)........2
PBIT, % of sales (GP)...............................................3 15%
Sales growth (GP)....................................................10
CA = Competitive advantage;
CC = Corporate citizenship;
HC = Investment in human capital; and
PG = Growth and profitability;
The distributors awareness of “why” come later on, if whatsoever, as would be observed. Moreover and with understanding and knowledge, the company modified the weights to replicate its learning and understanding about the measures possible manipulation, reliability, or impacts, mainly for a few of the softer measures, as Flamholtz (1979) forecasts. One of the chief designers of the Distributors Balanced Score Card stated:
Changes in the weights are basically a function of two essential things: 1) how convincing the figures we get are; 2) how significant we believe the things are....How do we determine outstanding individuals as the distributor? It is crucial; although how valid and authentic measure can we turn up with for it? Rigidity of the number absolutely influences the weights. Shall we position a heavier weighing on a certain thing in which you do not have confidence in, is then better than now? [12: 82 - 94]14
One other chief manager of the distribution channel as well elucidated:
Now-a-days, market share is the real driver and it stand for more than what the other things do. We have not moved any extra weighing there. It is comparatively more essential to replicate the feelings of the management squad. The distributors refute, tell me how are you ranking me, and I will do it even though if I do not like it. [13: 144 – 150]
The company’s primary version of the Distributors Balanced Score Card placed a sum total of 25 percent of weight-age on the Investments in the human capital (growth and learning area), but a year later that weight-age had been diminished to only 5 percent, principally since the management experienced that the statistics was unreliable. Similarly, the initial scorecard allocated a 10 percent weight-age on the corporate citizenship (customer value and internal processes areas), later on reduced to only 5 percent.
The company reallocated the preliminary weight-age’s mainly to the conventional market share measures (a result of constructing customer relationships), which developed rapidly in importance from mere 13 percent to a comparatively massive 30 percent, to replicate the supreme significance building long-standing customer relationships which results in the form of market share. The research site has also added weight for swiftly solving and diagnosing problems of its customers (internal processes area), which developed from mere 3 percent to almost 10 percent in the level of
14 The numbers in the brackets signifies the lines of the referenced text alongwith the interview number e.g., [12: 76 – 88] – interview 12, lines 76 – 88.
importance, to replicate the company’s principle concerning a necessary element for developing customer relationships. As will be demonstrated later, the weight-ages and the amendments in the weight-age influenced distributor’s perceptions for both the truly significant measures of importance as well as the “equilibrium” in the Distributors Balanced Score Card.
The administration did not regard the distributors to be associates in the procedure of developing the Distributors Balanced Score Card, which replicated the company’s conventional, top-down approach to supervision and management. A more participative, open approach to the use and development of the Distributors Balanced Score Card (one of the features of an effective communication) might have had an effect on the distributor’s approval of the Distributors Balanced Score Card’s and their consequent performance.
Moreover, the company never designed its Distributors Balanced Score Card explicitly to be a “strategy plan” as per Kaplan and Norton’s (2000) terminology,15 but allow the weights and measures to “converse for themselves” as the main indicators of performance. The ambiguous and top down character of communication may have obstructed the effectiveness and propinquity of the Distributors Balanced Score Card message. As discussed later, the distributors had a tough feeling on this, which could elucidate the adverse effects of the Distributors Balanced Score Card.
Figure 1 illustrates a quarterly Distributors Balanced Score Card, as reported to the management for numerous representative distributors. This balanced scorecard, which is set-up on the basis of numerical measures, is noteworthy for numerous reasons. Firstly, every distributor acquires its own individual report and also its relative, numerical ranking (e.g., 3rd out of 35). Secondly, every distributor’s internally benchmarked and quantified performance measure is marked and coloured in “green”(G) for “surpassing standard for satisfactoriness”, “yellow”(Y) for “meeting the standard for acceptability”, and “red”(R) for “failing to meet the standard for acceptability”.16 The total score is calculated in the last column by multiplying every measures appropriate weights with its numerical score. Additionally, all names of the distributors achieving “green” rankings are exhibited on the company’s intranet for everyone to glimpse.17
15 The distributors balanced score card pre-dated this particular technique and terminology, but still the notion of corresponding the “story of success” did existed.
16 The research site has created qualitative thresholds for every colour rating of every measure of the distributors balanced score card. The researcher is not at the authorization to reveal these thresholds.
17 In the figure 1, all names of the representative distributorship have been obscured and have also been ordered randomly. This figure does illustrate the real ratings of performance for particular distributorships.
This research study examines its research questions with qualitative data collected from interviews acquired from the individuals straight-forwardly involved with the company’s Distributors Balanced Score Card. Hence, the proofs and evidences are perpetual in character and, whilst it idyllically replicates the “actuality” of the effect of the Distributors Balanced Score Card, it might also replicate the individual’s and researcher’s partiality in the means which are not simply noticeable. The research method of this study tried to mitigate the consequences of these anonymous biases. The method of research is illustrated below.18
Because the Distributors Balanced Score Card symbolizes a spectacular transformation in the distribution strategy to managing the customer relationships from operational efficiency by the company’s distributors, the researcher required and got hold of direct comments from three managers, two Distributors Balanced Score Card Designers who were using it for evaluating the distributors, and also from fifteen of the 37 distributors.
Since the study is interested in all the aspect of the Distributors Balanced Score Card, the range of the distributor sample is restricted to those who constantly reported nearly complete or complete data. At the point of this research, these distributors had a complete ten quarter’s experience with this new Distributors Balanced Score Card. Although additional experience shall continue to improve and refine the understanding and perceptions, the sampled distributors stand for the most experienced distributors amongst all, available at the time of this research.
This selection shall bias the study, if some more experienced distributors who as well report more comprehensive data have methodically diverse perceptions in comparison with the
18 Lillis (1999) comments that the “papers reporting the results of (qualitative) research studies disclose little detail regarding attributes of study design, analytical processes and methods actually used by researchers.” Since the system of this research paper is comparatively new in the context of accounting literature, considerable space has been devoted to this topic. Researcher acknowledges the computer-aided techniques of conducting qualitative investigation are contentious in their own field of sociology, anthropology and origin. The principal source of debate seems to be the relative emphasis placed on positive method elevated by insightful analysis vs. computer supposedly forfeited to the inflexibility of the method (e.g., Lee and Fielding 1996; Coffey et al. 1996), but this particular type of debate is recognizable in most of the sub-fields of management accounting as well. Also see Trochim (2000).
# Supplied by the distributors to the company (23% weight-age). Other things are prepared by the company from statistical and financial reports (77% weight-age).
other distributors. One more source of bias shall be the performance of the scorecard, which might influence the understanding and performance of the Distributors Balanced Score Card; the selected sample included fifteen distributors replicating overall green, yellow, and red ratings. Amongst the distributors reporting total and complete data, only five “red” and three “green” distributors were available, therefore the sample was filled up with seven “yellow” distributors. At the moment of the interviews, on the whole there were four green, 21 yellow and 12 red distributors.
The collected sample of the distributors also replicated the geographic dispersion – three mid-western, four western, two north-eastern, three southern and three Indian. After analysing and studying the interviews, the researcher feel convinced that she has got hold of full range of response from the distributors. As the interviews progressed, responses started being duplicated. Whereas further few more “green” distributor interviews shall have been enviable, the researcher feels they might have been improbable to contribute and share additional insights.19
The researcher acquired archival information (quarterly Distributors Balanced Score Card and policy and background documents) from the managers governing Distributors Balanced Score Card. The entire interview data was acquired by means of telephone in the month of July 2009 then, the managers informed other managers, designers, and all 37 distributors the researcher was conducting this study and shall ring then for contribution about the Distributors Balanced Score Card. The interviews lasted ranging from 40 minutes up till 70 minutes, depending completely on the basis of how much the interviewee had to share. This research study implemented a semi-structured format for the interview and also guaranteed the respondents for secrecy and ambiguity.20
To circumvent the replies that might be artefacts of the interview procedure itself, the researcher did not intentionally enquired about the leading questions concerning management
19 The scheme of sampling may be partial due to the comparative under sampling of the “green” distributors. The comparative tone of comments, although, do not seem to be associated to the overall distributors balanced score card rating. There is no numerical or statistically important (α = 0.05) correlations amongst the distributors balanced score card scores or “ineffective” or “effective” comments. It do not seem that this sampling scheme is a basis of bias in the subjective responses.
20 Distributors asserted that they constantly told the company about whatever they thought, with no restraint, although many of them were not at-all sure that they were heard or not. This is also consistent alongwith this research study’s characterization of the top-down approach of management.
communication or control attributes of the Distributors Balanced Score Card or any other questions associated with the study’s research questions. Whereas, the research’s use of organisational communication and management control theories replicate a deductive approach towards research and definitely guide model building and later analysis, the researcher was not sure that, whether all the identified factors were appropriate and associated with the effectiveness and usefulness of the Distributors Balanced Score Card.
At this point, the researcher preferred to collect data more liberally and also allowed the respondents’ undirected, natural commentary and explanatory denial, support, or the extended theories.21 A significant advantage of this approach is that, the respondents shall recognize the factors that influence the effectiveness of the Distributors Balanced Score Card other than those predicted by the study’s presumption and theory.
Researcher asked the following open ended questions to each distributor:
1. In your words, how will you describe the distributors balanced score card?
2. What according to you is the objective of the balance score card?
3. What are those nine measures, which the distributor’s are requires to report, actually measuring?
4. What are those measures filled up by the company actually measuring?
5. How does the measures reported by the distributors correlate to those of the company? (Follow up: Do changes in the distributor’s performance create any changes in the measures of the company’s?)
6. Do the measures (company’s and distributors) assist or help you in any manner?
7. Are there benefits, if any, from the implementation of the balanced score card itself? (Follow up: Other than the individual measures?)
8. Do you any (other) comments or suggestions for improving the present balanced score card?
The researcher asked fundamentally similar questions to the administrators of the distributors balanced score card, but their interviews mostly tended to be comparatively more wide-ranging and open. To maintain within the available time, researcher usually did not question
21 An alternative approach, which is more objective and possibly more constrained, is to execute a telephone or written survey to obtain scaled replies for theoretically deriving the questions regarding certain definite characteristics of organisational communication or management control (e.g., Dillman 1978). This particular approach needs a more completely developed theory of the effectiveness of balanced score card than what the researcher believe was available and might limit the range of collected data. The results of this research can be used for developing a telephone or mail survey for the purpose of collecting cross-sectional data.
The administrators about the specific distributors balanced score card measures (questions 3 and 4). Therefore, the administrator and the distributor interviews are not straightforwardly comparable on all the questions. Since the administrators interviews are comparatively less focused on the distributors balanced score card measures, this research utilizes them for the purpose of background information. If not otherwise specified, the study that follow correspond to the distributors interviews only.
All the interviews were carried out using conference calls from the research site itself, conducted over a period of two and a half weeks, by the researcher asking all the initial and follow-up questions and also recording the comments on a laptop alongwith taking notes. Following every interview, the researcher confabulated instantly to finish the abbreviated remarks that could get complicated and hard to decode later. All interview records were copied unmitigated and archived in numerous locations.
The Coding Procedures
Two alternative procedures of coding are: (1) strict and fixed use of codes on the basis of theoretical conducts or (2) absolutely free coding, unrestricted by any preceding theory. Both these approaches hold their followers and adherent. Although, it is very unusual for researchers in the field of accounting to enter this field free from preceding theory or presumptions. Miles and Huberman (1994) debates that, when a theory directs an inquiry, it is realistic and efficient to start with a theoretical framework, and add “open” codes as the data proposes.
The outcome is a hybrid approach which allows empirical flexibility (or theory review) and acknowledges and recognizes theoretical guidance (or else bias). The research study utilized organisational communication and the management control literatures reviewed earlier as an analysis and coding guide, but amended the framework and its structure as the researcher analyzed the data. Therefore, this research study encloses elements of both testing and theory building.
The digital investigation process applies certain codes which replicate empirical or theoretical constructs to the available qualitative data – an intricate sophisticated means to generalize and annotate interview transcripts. The researcher preordained codes for the data collected by interviews to replicate the interview questions – question 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 12 were distributor supplied measures questions put up for question 3.22 Furthermore, researcher also generated codes that replicates effects of the distributors balanced score card (e.g., Improvements), quality of organisational communication (e.g., Two-way dialogue) and expected and likely management control issues (e.g., Comprehensive performance).
As examined previously, certain codes replicate additional concepts, disclosed in the coding procedure (e.g., the Weight of every measure in finding out the total distributors balanced score card scores). These codes were later applied to the data collected from interview data as demonstrated in Figure 2.23 The research didn’t use the software particularly to count for or search particular phrases or words. Selection of vocabulary has been arbitrary, and phrases or
22 The very first interview was started with only ten distributor supplied measures, but then it was promptly found to be more descriptive for splitting some into separate measures. All the sets of codes applied alongwith their definitions are elucidated in Appendix A.
23 The figure 2 includes certain examples of the code associations further described in Appendix B.
A sample of the Coded Interview Text
In this sample, the codes external demand, writing book, limiting the scope of research in the right-hand window corresponds to the text written in the left-hand window. By clicking on each of the codes on the right hand side shall highlight the corresponding text in the left window. The parenthesise to the left of every code illustrates its location .
NOTE: The researcher could not use the actual Coded Interview Text because of the Data Protection Act and other rules and regulations regarding the privacy statements of the company.
# The prefix “sc-” refers to a “super-code”, which is aimed to collect the intended codes listed beneath the super-code.
words shall not carry meaning other than that of their spoken context (Miles and Huberman 1994). Therefore, the study required understanding, reading and coding the blocks of text with respect to every interview. This is an extremely subjective phase of the study, but together with using both a coding scheme and an interview protocol the researcher also used other measures to enhance the objectivity of the coding. Appendix B elucidates these steps of the study.
The final concluding list of codes, alongwith the frequencies by the interviews, is stated in Table 2. Observe it so as for simplicity of later explanation; the research study gathers associated individual codes into “super-codes” or large pattern codes. These super-codes replicates ex-ante hypothetical and theoretical constructs (e.g., Positive outcomes, Effective management control, Effective communication) and are also corresponding to the statistical factor models.
The frequency of the codes does not replicate any relation amongst the concepts, not does it replicates the intensity of feelings; but it does portrays an indication for the relative importance of each of these concepts. These attributes and features of the data shall be discovered later through supplementary analysis, which are explained next. A few or one of the talkative respondents did not follow the coded comments; however two distributor’s interviews were comparatively briefer than other.
Relations Amongst Codes
Theoreticallty Supported Model
Figure 3 is a replica of the relations between the organisational communication attributes and the employees perceptions about the management control of the distributors balanced score card which is based upon the previous codes applied during the analysis and the literature review. The arrows ( ) used to connect the boxes replicate the expectations regarding casual relations. The study anticipated that both Effective communication and Effective management control in the use and design of the distributors balanced score card shall cause Effective motivation, Strategy alignment, and then eventually, Positive results. In contrary, the research anticipated that the “ineffective” factors might cause “negative” results (in this study, only tension/Conflict was examined qualitatively and coded).24
Observing Relations Between The Codes
The relational querying abilities of qualitative software, for instance Atlas.ti, authorize extensive investigation of likely casual hypothesis and associations using the coded interviewee’s insight and perception of the distributors balanced score card. Measuring the degree of relation amongst the codes needs context of the hypothesized relations and an analysis of proximity (as shown in Figure 3).
This is similar to building a table of correlation by using a set of certain statistical or arithmetical measures, where the nature and frequency of the qualitative associations are constructing certain blocks of causality. This research measured causality by testing and examining for numerous qualitative attributes of absolutely casual relations. Appendix B elucidates the steps used to implement this approach for investigating and establishing proof and confirmation of causality within the researcher’s research questions.
24 Tension and conflict could be advantageous if they act as the catalysts for enhanced resolution and communication, but if any conflict or disagreement is left alone to boil, can result worsening relations (e.g., Watson and Baumler 1975).
It is apparent that all distributors understand and are also aware of the company’s diagnostic mission for the overall distributors balanced score card. Representative statements explaining their consciousness and understanding of the new measures and their related links consist of:
A number of businesses are likely to run alongwith the market share and financial measures, but all those are somewhat crude handles. We are required to get beneath with measures such as cycle time and quality, and also softer things such as employee development. That’s where the power of this business is. Others are the outcomes of what you have made and completed. [4: 155 – 158]
I believe they are all correlated. It is really tough to be a good administrator in one area and not in the other. [10: 119 – 120]
The primary aim of this research is to discover if the distributors balanced score card is observed to hold the attributes of an effective management control and organisational communication devices. The secondary aim is to find out, if possible, can these attributes be casually associated with decision changes, reported process, and motivation or goal alignment.
As elucidate in appendix B, where the researcher discovered frequent, consistent, and specific patterns of association and connection, the researcher tried to search for further more proofs of causality, based upon coherence,25 which is intimately associated to face validity. This plausible “story” of a coherent causality is something what differentiates between a mere association or the findings of a causality. Below mentioned Table 3 and Figure 4 recapitulate the results of a thorough and exhaustive audit of the consistency of frequent, consistent and specific associations. These displays include only those associations which found to meet up adequate causality criteria (full and complete data is in Appendix B).
25 It was not that viable in this research study to assess the behavioural gradient, temporality, or plausibility, to experiment, or to analogize, with the levels of all factors. The characteristics of the casual relations have been further discussed in Appendix B.
Overview of The Data Supported Model
Analytically connected extracts in the interview data, which are imitated by the links in Figure 4, uphold the research questions in certain interesting ways.26 Furthermore, study of all the corresponding codes in Table 3 and Figure 4 provides answers to the research questions of this study and also guides to certain recommendations to develop and improve the effectiveness and usefulness of the distributors balanced score card.
Trimming the noticeable ex-ante relations in Figure 3, imitated in Figure 4, contains implications for comprehending how the balanced score card shall cause communication of strategy and management control. As evident, on the “effective” segment of Figure 4, Effective management control appears to create Effective motivation and Strategy Alignment, which successively appears to create Positive results (e.g., modification in certain measures or the balanced score card).
These are strong, consistent associations amongst certain specific factors which communicates a coherent and logical story, which this study understands as evidence of causality. However, there is no consistent proof of a direct association between Positive Results and Effective management control. In this model, Effective management control influences Positive results by Effective motivation and Strategy alignment. These data offer support for the “effective” form of management control, research question 2.
Astonishingly, there are no steady links amongst the perceptions of an Effective communication and the other distributors balanced score card model factors, which offers no assistance for the “effective” form of communication, research question 1. In this context, the effective communication feature of the balanced score card emerge to be of no use to effective management control.
At the “ineffective” segment of the model, Ineffective motivation, Ineffective communication, and Ineffective management control are all connected or appear to be casually connected. Moreover, they appear to create Tension/Conflict, which offers support for both research question 1 and 2. This signifies that weakly implemented and designed features of the balanced score card can do negatively affect the control and communication of strategy. Numerous casual links including Ineffective motivation and some other factors were not expected and shall be addressed later. The research will now respond to each of the associative and casual links in reference to the two research questions, referring to the links in Figure 4.
26 In Figure 4, the numerals on the links are the counts of linked, paired, and verified quotations, absolutely corresponding to the Table 3.
Research Question 1:
Is the Balanced Score Card an (in) effective device for communication, creating (negative) positive organisational outcomes, (in) effective motivation, and (non) alignment?
Effective Communication Effective Motivation/Strategy Alignment Positive Results
Unpredictably, the research study discovered no constant or steady relation amongst the attributes of effective communication and other distributors balanced score card model factors. On the whole, this research study do not uphold the “effective” form of research question 1 that effective communication either causes or is associated with Positive outcomes, Effective motivation, or Strategic alignment.27
Ineffective Communication Ineffective Motivation/Strategy Non-Alignment
Ineffective communication seems to be principally self-sufficient of other “ineffective” distributors balanced score card factors. However, although this research could find only very few evidences about the impact of Effective Communication, there was comparatively abundant evidences supporting the fact that the distributors balanced score card management’s frequent application of the “One way reporting” system is a direct reason for Tension/conflict (17 casual links).
Unsuccessfully, the Tension/conflict emerged to be unproductive and worthless (i.e., it has no steady links to Positive results). This might contribute to an atmosphere of alienation and distrust which in turn diminishes distributors and also the company’s effectiveness.
27 Almost all the distributors spoke naturally about the performance in context of rankings and colour ratings. If not anything else, at-least both rankings and the colour ratings from this distributors balanced score card have definitely reinforced company’s previously competitive culture and also transformed its language. For instance:
I will be actually reluctant to put it up on to the bulletin board. I really don’t want the technicians or the customers too witness this “red”. [2: 155 – 157]
You’re a true idiot, if you are “red”. [4: 173]
By watching all this, you can just call-up someone and then say, “How did you managed to achieve “green” in the service utilisation?” [5:189]
At present we are dazzling “red”, earlier we were “yellow”. [10: 60]
Our rank does matter matters for us, we are definitely competitive...I wish to be at number one. [6: 19]
The company enforced distributors balanced score card benchmarks and measures without taking any opinion or advice, and then also used the distributors balanced score card as an evaluation and a diagnostic control measure. The distributors felt trivialized and ignored due to their ignorance. Though, they have very little recourse due to the frequency of “One way reporting”, which was a general and common grievance. For instance:
No reply [to my grievances], so we have to stick to our measure [of security and safety]. I have received no reply for my concerns, and I am annoyed at them at this subject. Every distributor who is in green is a deceiver. There is no practical means in hell that, it could happen. The kind of work we people do, we just cannot do it...Do they have some clue about how the distributor’s surroundings are? They do not care sufficiently to reconcile issues, but the actually the issue itself is crucial. [7: 117 – 123]
Partially as expected, the data and information collected provides basis for the “ineffective” form of the research question 1; Ineffective communication, particularly the “One way reporting”, largely have certain negative consequences for the reported uses, perceptions, and acceptance of the distributors balanced score card.
Is the Balanced Score Card an (in) effective device for management control, creating (negative) positive organisational outcomes, (in) effective motivation, and (non) alignment?
Effective Management control Strategy Alignment Positive Results
As anticipated, balanced score card features of Effective management control (Weight, Comprehensive performance, and Effective measurement) appears to be casually associated with the Strategy alignment (ten casual links with Traditional market share, six with balanced score card Important for business, and ten links with the Key factors, respectively). The distributors observed that having trustworthy data guides to the aptitude for taking actions that influence the new customer relationship strategy (e.g., 19 casual links with the Measures causes change), which may not have been possible before the distributors balanced score card. For instance, in the application of customer satisfaction methods:
We [now] offer all work to an external service. They ring a number of customers each day. We then get response for a list of specified questions. Just in case if any customer finish up having a bad experience, [now] we can obtain that information the same day and then call the customers on our own. [9: 120 – 123]
Because the distributors balanced score card measures Comprehensive performance, also including the important non-financial and financial measures, it is an indication of the overall victory of managing crucial factors (balanced score card important for business). Therefore, managers have an improved feel, especially for how they are supervising and managing the whole business for both present and the potential future results.
The balanced score card is attempting to provide us a wider business set of the measures of success than the more conventional/traditional market and financial share. It envelops a set of few things collectively which communicates sense for managing the business. [4: 6 – 8]
One of the company’s chief strategic aim is to enhance its long-established traditional share in the market. The comparatively intense weight-age laid on this distributors balanced score card measures forces the distributors (occasionally unwillingly) to associate and align their aims and goals alongwith improving the conventional market segment. They respect their association with the company, and the distributors balanced score card explains them what they should do for being a successful and competent distributor, although they understand this to indicate that they must practice improvements and up-gradations in the conventional market share to the exception of several other growth prospects.
If they are concerned only about the one-third part of their entire business, then that is fine. It is worth some 29 points on the balanced score card. I am “yellow” and “red” there, so there is no expectation to be “green” from all other measures...They are calculating only the (traditional/conventional) market penetration...In this case balanced score card is surely a misnomer. [3: 123 – 127]
By taking together Key factors, the distributors balanced score card requires the distributors to diagnose difficulties and then modify their actions and processes (Measure causes change) in considerable ways. This guides to several suggestion for Modifying measures or the balanced score card (12 casual links) – an illustration of probable interactive implementation of the distributors balanced score card (e.g., Simons 2000, Chapter 10). Calculating the percentage of client’s problems examined within an hour, for instance, also forced most distributors to pay attention on their service and parts resources for developing customer relations, steadily alongwith the new strategy, instead of completely utilizing the capacity – an illustration of the diagnostic utilization of the distributors balanced score card (Simons 2000).28
This [measure] distinguishes our competition from our businesses. It needs an absolute change of the “culture” inside the shop. At this moment, we are required to handle the service events rather than just scheduling the work. [2:103 – 104]
Previously, distributors had preferred complex, large service jobs which were comparatively straightforward to schedule and that it could also be considered on for occupying service space and technicians for huge amount of time. Customers having straightforward service needs were positioned in the service row in their order of entrance, with no privileged treatment, alongwith the outcome that several began to consider their simple tasks somewhere else and because of the jeopardy that they shall be lost as consistent and permanent customers. Distributors examined that:
28 One of the most expressed application of the distributors balanced score card (by both distributors and managers) emerged to be for diagnostics instead of interactive controls; it is also consistent and similar to the top-down culture of the company.
[60 minutes analysis] needs some modification in measurement and it is generating a new frame of mind in the service organisation...We cannot organise it; we are required to offer the capacity as well as the process. [ 2:234 – 240]
[60 minutes analysis] leans to make us triage similar to a hospital and to do the quick tasks first. [3:60 – 60]
I was not a supporter in the beginning, but today I am. It notifies us, how promptly we make out what’s incorrect so that we can put-up a smart knowledgeable statement against the customer, and then can notify “go ahead” or not. We have succeeded in flowing more jobs from our shop by getting hold of easy, quick stuff from the shop. It lets us shun embarrassing situations and turn the jobs quicker...It is definitely helping us, although it is not at-all easy to change the way of thinking, but still it is good. [7: 57 – 64]
Even though there is no proof of a direct association from Effective management control to Positive results, but otherwise the collected data offers extensive support in respect to the “effective” form of research question 2. Effective management control utilizing the distributors balanced score card appears to cause Positive results from Strategic alignment in some way or the other.
Effective Management control Effective Motivation Positive Results
The distributors balanced score card’s motivational effects were apparent with respect to certain definite factors as well as overall. Incentives comprised of both successful contract renewals and enhanced distributor’s business performance. The management control design of the distributors balanced score card replicates the Causality of the distributors balanced score card explanation of the business, which then causes Meaningful rewards (9 casual links). Many distributors consider that improvements in the non-financial distributors balanced score card measures will in-turn result in considerable financial rewards and enhanced customer relationships.
[Unitization of service is] the most essential number in the entire business. [6: 103]
I provided the formula to my boys that, shall we bill the technicians out [on an average] one extra hour a day; we could put-up over Rs. X million to our [yearly] base line. That is the type of scale we were discussing about. [5: 80 – 83]29
The distributors balanced score card is flourishing as an motivational instrument when it imitates relations between Distributors performance and Strategic alignment. For instance, setting up appropriate benchmark objectives for inspiration works hand-in-hand alongwith the management control of the Key factors (15 association links). Distributors do not combat to tough, but still achievable goals.
Excellent measurement! Do not have any trouble with that obstacle. Vast issue and cannot strain it enough. We have approximately [xxx] labour hours. I usually manage to have one [accident] in a year to be green. That is a tough hurdle. It is perhaps a little tough at the moment. [ 5: 89 – 92]
Additionally, setting achievable but still tough distributors balanced score card goals (Appropriate benchmarks) inspires distributors to modify their processes as well as decisions (Measure causes change).
85 percent of the work takes place in about five hour range in our service store. Large numbers, as the mindset in our stores had been so that we desire that huge overhaul, the lengthy, long jobs. But next, our service efficiency gets to suffer. We lost many hours and didn’t even turn a lot of jobs as well because there is a fine possibility of losing time [hours on a large job]... Offer credit to the company for the five hour long target. They did consider it; it is perhaps a norm of the industry. Focusing upon this number has altered a bit of the culture or at-least the thinking process in the store. We transformed to smaller jobs at the moment and then we can find bigger jobs later on. Therefore, the management has aroused to the reality that they could handle their stores better using the 60 minutes diagnostic time and five hour jobs to make their stores more efficient and competent. [5: 48 – 60]
29 This particular quote is also an illustration of an extremely important sub-coded link (meaningful reward improvement) which didn’t meet up our threshold of frequency of a minimum of 12 links, demonstrating one of the few probable costs of striving for increasing the objectivity of analysis.
Relative performance evaluation lets every distributor to know about his own relative position as well as how others are doing, and thus motivated the distributors and also provides them with a means for Improvement. (8 casual links).
[Collecting] the information and then sharing it again with us, stating that all other distributors are XYZ. I can glance at it and then notice how I am performing. Why am I not the same? Why am I different? I could apply it as a switch for trying to progress. [8: 124 – 126]
The data offer steady proofs of causation and also supports the argument that the perceptions of this balanced score card’s effective and efficient management control features guide to strategic alignment, effective motivation, and next positive results, supporting the second research question.
Ineffective Management control Ineffective Motivation Tension/Conflict
This research study established no frequent or consistent links amongst any of the components of either Strategy non-alignment or the other distributors balanced score card model factors. Nevertheless, the Key factors which are badly represented in the distributors balanced score card are linked with many examples of certain other shortcomings. Remarkably, Subjective/Inaccurate measures of the Key factors (25 associations) add to the perceptions of Inappropriate benchmarks (nine casual links), which looks to cause extensive Tension/Conflict (ten casual links). This group of factors emerge to be accountable for most of the Tension/conflict created by the implementation and use of distributors balanced score card (18 of the 36 casual links), which replicated a lack of participation and local autonomy in determining the targets and measures. For instance:
[The measure is] a group of “hooey” up-till maintaining score, however for us operating the business is an essential measure. Whatever we work internally is most important, not that if we have a “star” on the shoe. This is just one of the areas for improvement, but we require being very consistent and should describe that decisive factor more closely. We regularly evaluated ourselves even before the company did it. We measure ourselves every month on this one. We just overlook the balanced score card measures for our reasons, and just use our own ones. [2: 129 – 136]
[Safety and wellbeing is a] hot knob. The balanced score card applies a completely ridiculous measure; however the concept is really great. Till date I have jotted five memos on this topic. Prior to this I was responsible for administering three plants. I have 150 technicians, and suppose if those 150 have any more than one accident in per year, I am in the “red”. Absurd and ridiculous! [7: 110 – 112]30
The interview data supplies steady evidence of the general pathway linking Tension/conflict, Ineffective motivation, and Ineffective management control, which holds-up and support the “ineffective” form of the research question 2.
30 The distributors conveyed strong feelings and opinions about some of the measures, which as per their judgement were measured weakly and poorly, but actually accounted for comparatively very little weight in the whole distributors balanced score card (e.g., safety had just 3% weight-age). This possibly imitates common disappointment with both the top-down procedure of developing the distributors balanced score card and also the visibility of the poor performance at those measures.
Strategy Alignment Ineffective Motivation or Ineffective Communication or Ineffective Management Control Positive Results
This research study discovered few unanticipated casual associations and relations. However, upon reflection, it is not astonishing that grievances concerning Inappropriate benchmarks are the reasons of suggestions to Modify the balanced score card or its measures. Evidently, the distributors holding economic stakes in contract renewal as well as business’s success, desire attainable goals and relevant measures for the distributors balanced score card Key factors. For instance:
Is the X% [a benchmark of the percentage of all technician hours utilized for the purpose of training] exactly appropriate? Tough to comment! Most likely now, that shall be a very low number to be given [that]...the organisation will soon obsolete its product line completely. The necessity for training is much-much bigger today as compared to what it had been in the history. Certain companies shall use the training rupees [instead of percentage of the training hours]. They are on like 7% [of the revenues], which is any day very high as compared to ours. This elevates a query in our brains. Are we doing adequate? What we are concerned about is, are we actually reinvesting sufficient in our workforce. [2:184 – 191]
Furthermore, the utmost consistent, abundant evidence (66 links illustrated in the dashed lines of Figure 4, towards the right side) demonstrates that Key factors are connected with Costly to measure, inappropriate benchmarks, not explicable/understandable messages, and Subjective/Inaccurate measures of the balanced score card. Distributors feel irritated when they understand the ineffective execution and implementation of the distributors balanced score card factors which they think are important to their own contact renewal and business success. Usual comments, for instance concerning the distributors balanced score card measure of the training for all salaried employees:
[The training of all salaried workforce is] as crucial [as for the technicians] but it is difficult to quantify and measure. We have to apply some speculation, as they are not compensated on hourly basis. Moreover, what is training? Noticeably attending the class in between the workday, but then what about attending the same after work? In fact, what percentage is it of the overall salaried hours? [6: 156 – 161]
For all salaried individuals, it’s tougher!!! We have to gaze the expenditure reports, and moreover it is a dreadful and horrendous process. Now when we get this data collection issue to the company, then they respond that they cannot do it either. Still they do not do it, and they are also not sure about the ability of their own number. From the response of other distributors, they are only taking a stab on it. We just really gather and compile the figures, but many others are obtaining “green” scores for just guessing. We are red or yellow, and it is a true real figure. The real amount of time is not worth it. However, it is the correct thing to do and the correct idea as well. [2: 176 – 184]
The distributor’s irritation was apparent when they understood that the distributors balanced score card was trying to communicate and measure the crucial success issues, but just that it was doing it so ineffectively.
We do not develop much, therefore we need to discover ways to develop and expand. That is all what they pushed-up here [for renewal of contract]. For another distributor, what they pushed-up was just the satisfaction of customers. Certain areas if we [both] recognize were red, and we were doing a bad work, they just don’t appear to worry...Amazing tool, but just that I am not at all sure if it should actually be used or if we are using it the way as how it should be used. [9: 176 – 182]
This is a thing that we all must give more thought to. We have not performed that well as how we should have been, still the aims and goals mean zero for me because I am still so very far away from them. [6: 123 – 126]
Whereas this research study didn’t expect these (or any other similar) links, but their detection offers sufficient additional proofs of the chances to improve the communication and control of strategy with the distributors balanced score card. The research found comparatively little occurrences of the association amongst Positive results and Tension/conflict, which shall imitate both the comparative innovation of the distributor’s balanced score card as well as the one-way, top-down conversation prevailing in the company.
Summary of Results
The Balanced score card is a novel innovation strategy management control and communication development. Although, as with almost all innovations, demonstrating its validity usually takes time including careful analysis, objective evidence. There is constantly a menace of the “promotional hype” that it sometimes assures more than what a technique can actually deliver, which can lead to scepticism, disappointment and also failure to identify momentous benefits, even when it might not be as huge as publicized. Kaplan and Norton (2000, 1996) bill the distributors balanced score card as a reliable, complete strategic guide.
It will perhaps demonstrate to be just that. Although, there is very limited objective proof for the support this proposition. For instance, Ittner et al (2000) was unable to find any convincing evidence supporting the fact that a large bank’s balanced score card promoted enhanced strategic consciousness. Additional empirical evidence shall be helpful, since a majority of the balanced score card literature is either an uncritical report or a normative perception of the Balanced Score Card’s “successes”. It is believed that this research study offers a noteworthy contribution to the literature concerning interests of both the managers as well as the academics.
This current research study applies, a system of analysis which shifts the field based research of management accounting in the direction of enhanced internal validity and comparatively more generalized form as compared to what is evident in most of the explanatory field based research studies in this area. Although this qualitative approach could never attain the exterior validity of the statistical analysis of its archival data, perhaps it could aid the researchers (as well as their critics) who look to increase the reliability and objectivity of the field based study analysis.
The findings are such that, in a minimum of one corporate setting, the balanced score card does offer significant noteworthy occasions to build-up, communicate and then implement the strategy – similar to what Kaplan and Norton avow. This study found evidences supporting the statement that managers react positively to the balanced score card measures by rearranging their activities and the resources, in certain cases spectacularly, for improving their performance in those measures. Even more importantly, they consider that recuperating their balanced score card performance is similar to recuperating their business profitability and efficiency. Managers usually respond positively to the balanced score card and pay attention to its instructions when:
· Balanced score card elements are calculated efficiently and effectively, alongwith strategy and certain trustworthy guides for improvements, modifications, and changes;
· The Balanced score card is a well designed comprehensive tool of performance measurement which imitates the need of an effective management;
· The Balanced score card factors are observed to be linked casually with each other, attached to many meaningful rewards.
· Balanced score card benchmarks are helpful for directing changes and perfectly suitable for evaluation; and
· Relative Balanced score card performance acts as a pilot for improvement.
Although, problems of implementing and designing the balanced score card might be not at all different from the ones linked with any of the major modification in performance measurement systems. The subsequent factors were discovered to affect the perceptions of the balanced score card negatively and also caused significant tension and conflict amongst the distributors and the company.
· Measures are subjective or inaccurate;
· Communication concerning the Balanced score card is one-way (i.e., non-participative and top-down); and
· Set benchmarks are inapt but, still used for the purpose of evaluation.
However few of these adverse results are linked with the suggestions for improvement, majority of these are discovered to be reasons of the basic ambience of ineffectiveness or the unproductive tension and conflicts. For instance, this research found numerous examples of the key factors which were implemented in the company’s balanced score card ineffectively.
Relinquished uncorrected, all these negatives may result in forfeiting the management and communication control advantages of the balanced score card, mounting “imbalance” in the balanced score card as its spotlight shifts towards comparatively more objective, the short term financial measures (Ittner et al. 2000), and also deteriorated relations. For instance, we could speculate that we didn’t monitored adequate relations amongst Tension/conflict and Positive results since there is very diminutive conversation (or dialectical process) among the distributors and the company – researcher could locate only seven such associations). In this particular case, it has been observed that conflict does simmers and seldom results in any positive result.
Over the brighter part, the preceding bullet points correspond to non-value added and value added balanced score card activities. For successfully designing, implementing and using the Balanced Score Card, companies must correct or eliminate the latter, negative factors and develop and boost the former, positive factors. It might be worth observing that the sum total of all consistent associations in the “ineffective” part of the model stated in Figure 4 far overshadows those located in the “effective” part (165 to 63).
Therefore, the preponderance of the negative perceptions imitates numerous prospects to develop and progress both control and communication of strategy. It probably appears that this incompetence an ineffectiveness can be resolved and even the negative results of unnecessary tension and conflict can definitely be avoided at a reasonably low cost (although it might need significant transformation in attitudes). Probable solutions may perhaps be as easy as improvement in the dialectical process between the distributors and the company concerning important but poorly understood or ineffectively measures distributors balanced score card factors (e.g., Lindquist 1995).
Future Research & Limitations
Although, a lot of distributors and managers of this company apparently exercise the distributors balanced score card as a legitimate and valid demonstration of their business, but we identify that their portrayed perceptions might not be a valid demonstration of their deeds and actions. However, to the researcher’s knowledge, there had been no statistical, rigorous test for the assertion that the balanced score card is, actually, a casual model, which is the spotlight of this ongoing research study.
Initial analysis of the numeric statistical properties of the research site’s distributors balanced score card authenticates several anticipated casual relations and particularly demonstrates the importance of the represented time lags between financial performance, customer value, and the transformations in investments in the internal processes. As consistent with the belief of distributors, it has been discovered that the “upstream” changes shall not result in any tangible financial development or improvements for more than a year.
You will notice very little modification from quarter to quarter. In the last quarter barely one measure was changed. [10: 122 – 125]
I anticipate a two to four year interval to observe some momentous impact of the market infiltration investments. I am spending zillions of rupees on it; however the returns shall be approximately in about four years time. Presently, we shall notice a few short-term returns, however big returns are about four to five years down the way. [3: 149 – 151]
My gut sensation is that, initially it took about one to two years to retrain and reorganize, and three or four years later it commenced to pay off. I do anticipate faster results now from ameliorating one hour diagnosis and the fill rate. [7: 206 – 208]
I will consider about a year to year-and-a-half for parts fill rate. Perform well, and in-turn your name and repute becomes well-known and you shall also observe certain effect in your financials as well. It is just a matter of awareness of the customers that we are carrying out something new and different here which shall get reiterate business. [4: 131 – 134]
People are very sensible. They do let us be acquainted with it if we don’t live up to their hope and expectations. Few of our clients are gazing at other places to obtain parts due to our stocking troubles. Clients will definitely react in about five to six months period. [2: 218 – 224]
Few of the particular problems encountered in almost any and every test of the balanced score card consist of:
· No negative results or effects which could be attributed to either “bad implementation” or “bad design” rather than to the notion of balanced score card as a casual model;
· Changes in the balanced score card links and measures as the systems progress to accommodate the changing condition;
· Positive results or desirable effects which might be caused by certain other, associated (but omitted) factor, although are attributed to the balanced score card;
· Lengthy lead time prior to seeing the effects in certain lagging measures of the performance; and
· Changes in personnel, markets and organizations which might affect the balanced score card’s links and structure.
Making advancement on controlling these above mentioned factors propose prospects for important contributions to the researcher’s understanding of evaluation, performance measurement, and strategy communication characteristics of the Balanced Score Card.
As the collection of data for this research in June 2009, the distributors balanced score card shall experience a few important changes in the next 6 months from now. Few of these changes are beginning to be implemented from August 2009 onwards. The company has proposed to add some new measures and consecutively delete few of the reconfigured categories, adjusted weights and the original measures. The company has no plans to modify the benchmark targets of its retained measures.
One of the most remarkable changes shall come into effect from the end of 2009 when the distributors balanced score card managers will be trimmed from 31 to 21 measures. One of the main amendments made till date was maintaining the vehemence of the Growth and Learning category – it is now removed from the distributors balanced score card, but still the measures carry on to be accumulated on a yearly basis. This particular significant area of the performance was supposed to be a casualty of an untrustworthy measurement – but possibly presents a chance for improving the balanced score card.
One more change is the enrichment of measures of the new market segment, principally at the demand of the distributors getting noteworthy growth occasions in the new markets. In this occurrence, the company agreed to the desires of the distributors even though the new market segment measures were comprehended to be comparatively much less dependable as compared to the traditional market share.
Almost all the managers of the company regarded the distributors balanced score card project as an embryonic budding process. Ever since the time when the interviews were conducted for this research study, the percentage of “green” rated distributors has climbed from 4 (8 percent) to 18 (54 percent), whereas the percentage of all “red” rated distributors has dropped down from 12 (34 percent) to merely 3 (5 percent).
The overall average balanced score card score has mounted up from 69 points to 76 points (from a total of 100). Moreover, significantly almost all distributors have understood, on an average, moderate but still noticeable enhancements in the financial performance observed over the past 16 quarters for which the data has been collected. For instance, as illustrated below, the distributors balanced score card’s financial measure, distributors profit before interest and tax / Sales, has enhanced by 8.4% (average of all total distributors) on evaluating the last four quarters of the scorecard practice to the first four quarters of the same.
Twenty of the 37 distributors experienced an increase in the profit before interest and tax / sales (an average of 51.4%); 17 of them experienced noticeable declines (an average of -21.3%). The largest increase in profit before interest and tax / sales was +218.4%, whereas the largest decline was -55.5%. From the last four to the first four quarters available for this research, the distributor’s profit before interest and tax / sales and their distributor balanced score card performance has been distributed as state below:
Decreased (-) Increased (+) Total
Distributors whose DBSC score decreased (-) 10 7 17
Distributors whose DBSC score increased (+) 6 14 20
Total 16 21 37
Average of percentage change in the PBIT/Sales: - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
First four quarters to the last four quarters ( 21.3% ) 51.4% 8.6%
The real division is slightly different as compared to a uniform distribution (p = 0.060), with the 26 of 37 distributors footing on the ++ / - - diagonal, similar to a general expectation. Both the distributors and the company anticipate “upstream” developments to take a couple of years to flow through the financial results as well, therefore the data gathered and available for this research shall not be adequate to completely capture all the consequences of the distributors balanced score card.
The increase in financial performance and the score card alongwith the changes in the distributors balanced score card has persuaded the company to prolong its management with the distributors balanced score card. Possibly a better attention to the grass root level causes of fruitless conflicts surrounding the distributors balanced score card will definitely result in an elevated higher distributors performance, use, and acceptance.
Steps to Establish Causality and Guarantee Coding Reliability
· Insuring Reliability of Coding
After determining and setting certain predetermined scheme for coding, first interview was coded with the help of software tool. Subsequent to coding the first interview, it was rechecked on the preset codes (reduced from 72 to 56) and also the built computer file was sent out to the distributor who gave the interview to resolve the differences, if any. Subsequently, the researcher then jointly resolved all disagreements and also coded the left-over interviews. In some cases, the resolution was to rework the definition or name of a code. A petite number of current codes were not at-all used and are not reported as well.
For testing the reliability of coding, 2 weeks later four randomly selected interviews were sent to the concerning distributor for resolving the differences, if any.31 The interviewer then noted all disagreements and agreements between the researcher and the distributors and implemented them into the coded data. Software allowed the researcher to code all segments of the data – a paragraph, sentence, phrase, a single word and so on. Thus, the researcher didn’t count small disparities in the boundaries of the parts of text as any disagreement; but, a “disagreement” was actually no code (or a different code) applicable to nearly the same part of text. An “agreement” was to use the same code for about the same part of text. The coding concurrence for this particular test averaged 82.5 percent [(agreements + disagreements) / agreements], ranging from 71 to 89 percent across the four interviews. This stated level of coding reliability is well within the norms of declared 80 to 90 % coding reliability (Miles and Huberman 1996, 64).32
31 Couple-of-weeks were adequate for the researcher to truly forget all details of the actual coding. Because the coding was complex and all transcripts were comparatively lengthy, there appears very little possibility that the recording was standing upon recall of the actual coding.
32 The researcher is aware of the research in some other fields which uses as little as eight to ten codes and also reports a higher coding reliability. Although this might not be the one and only determinative of the coding reliability, the coding scheme used for this research was not reduced drastically just for increasing the statistic. Even though the qualitative methods do sacrifice objectivity up-till certain extent for gaining increased relevance and significance, but by being just as objective as likely or possible, certain computer aided qualitative investigators at a minimum generate an auditable database and also reveal their potential biases.
· Locating associations amongst codes
Atlas.ti, the implemented qualitative software enabled questions of proximity associations or relations amongst the coded quotations mentioned below very easily. Illustrations in parentheses refer to the codes exemplified in the Figure 2.
· The coded quotations of a specific type follow the coded quotations of a different type by not more than a single line (not reliable, line 0079, follows not explicable, lines 0077 – 0079).
· The coded quotations of a specific type precede the coded quotations of a different type by not more than a single line33 (not explicable, lines 0077 – 0079, precedes not explicable, line 0079).
· The coded quotations of a specific type are partly covered by the coded quotations of a different type (penalty / meaningful reward, lines 0082 – 0084, overlapped by the causality amongst measures, lines 0081 – 0084).
· The coded quotations of a specific type overlap the coded quotations of a different type (causality amongst the measures, lines 0081 – 0084, overlaps penalty / meaningful reward, lines 0082 – 0084).
· The coded quotations of a specific type are covered by the coded quotations of a different type (not explicable, lines 0077 – 0079, covered by subjective / inaccurate measure, lines 0077 – 0081).
· The coded quotations of a specific type cover the coded quotations of a different type (subjective / inaccurate measure, lines 0077 – 081, covers not explicable, lines 0077 – 0079).
The complete results of this examination and analysis are illustrated in Table 4, and also in Table 3 in the form of summary.
33 The choice of “single” line is conservative and discretionary. On further investigation and study, that the codes in single line of each other, alongwith only one exclusion – which was then discarded – were proof of causality and a component of the similar continuous thought; while numerous codes so far as five to six lines apart were accidentally proximate – and therefore, have not been included as an evidence of causality. For the simplicity of coding, all transcripts were actually saved in roughly 65 character lines.
Establishing Causality Amongst Codes
Close association or proximity of the types of quotes may signify causality (alike statistical correlation), however analysis and investigation of the context of these stated measures of association / proximity is essential. Miles and Huberman (1994, 146 – 147) exhibits that, even the qualitative analysis implements similar rules of causality like a statistical analysis. Examining the meaning and context of associations in the qualitative data might disclose causality (for instance, between Strategy alignment – SA and the Effective management control – EMC) by any of the below mentioned observations (the more it is, that better it is), in a rough sequence of applicability the this research study:34
· Experimentation (change the EMC, then monitor what happens to the SA);
· Similarity (SA and EMC resembles the deep-rooted patterns in the relationships);
· Behavioural gradient (more EMC, more SA);
· Temporality (the EMC before the SA, but not the reverse);
· Plausibility (a well recognized mechanism is present to link SA and EMC)
· Coherence (SA – EMC relation suites along with what other things are known about SA and EMC)
· Potency of association (comparatively much more EMC and SA as compared to with the other possible causes)
· Uniformity (EMS is often found with the SA at different places)
· Specificity ( a specific connection is shown amongst SA and EMC)
34 These mentioned attributes are parallel to Einhorn and Horagarth’s (1989) temporal and spatial cues of the causality.
Using the super code level questions lessened the total number of mentioned specific associations spectacularly. Questions shall find every possible association of elements of the super codes, not all of them shall be a proof of causality. To spotlight the investigation on the steady links, the study recognized all the super code links alongwith a sum of 29 or observed associations or more “hits”,35 and also appeared for a concentrated proof of the causality amongst the sub-coded comments or the individual. The total number of paired and sub-coded relations hardly ever exceeded 12 hits.
Thus, to keep away from omitting some of the meaningful sub-coded associations, the review was extended to all the super-coded relations with 12 or either more hits. In several cases, the sum total of hits connecting the two super-codes was extensively diffused all across their mentioned elements, alongwith no steady patterns at individual code level. This study did not examine these mentioned diffused associations any further. That is, this study conventionally treated strong, consistent (i.e., repeated) associations of particular factors as essential for establishing the causation of this research. To be qualified as a proof of causality, all of these links must also exhibit the coherence or be constant and consistent with the description of causality.
For instance, almost all the cases of specific, frequent, and consistent associations discovered by the “overlapped by”, “overlaps”, “covered by”, and “covers” operators also offered coherent stories of the causality. For instance in Figure 2, we can understand the causality from the monitored relation amongst meaningful reward / penalty (lines 0082 – 0084) and causality amongst measures (lines 0081 – 0084) – because the distributors balanced score card replicates casual relations amongst the measures (part of effective management control), distributors anticipate to attain significant rewards by using it (part of effective motivation). Although, few of the associations established by the “follows” or “precedes” operators were proximate, but only coincidentally. It means that, these were the associations for which this study could not create a coherent and logical casual story connecting both the codes and were then removed from the total counts of the evidence of causality.
35 Twenty nine super-code “hits” is the actual mean number of the super-code hits (16) along with one standard deviation (13).