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Towards a contingency approach to performance measurement: an empirical study in Scottish SMEs

Patrizia Garengo (DIMEG, University of Padua, Padova, Italy)
Umit Bititci (DMEM, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, Scotland, UK)

International Journal of Operations & Production Management

ISSN: 0144-3577

Article publication date: 24 July 2007




The literature emphasizes the important role performance measurement systems (PMS) play in supporting organizational development in small and medium enterprises (SMEs). However, there are very few empirical and theoretical studies on the factors that influence performance measurement practices in SMEs. This paper aims to contribute to filling this gap using both theoretical and empirical approaches.


A literature review and interviews were used to identify four key contingency factors for PMS in SMEs. A qualitative research design involving a multiple case study methodology was carried out to investigate how these factors influence performance measurement.


The relationship between the contingency factors and performance measurement were formalized in four theoretical propositions. First corporate governance structure is one of the main factors influencing performance measurement adoption and use. Second, advanced information practices and advanced behaviours on the part of the people involved appear to be a necessary condition for the effective implementation and use of PMS in SMEs. Third, a change in a firm's business model seems to lead to the development of an improved PMS. Finally, the successful implementation of a PMS seems to be driven by an authoritative management style.

Research limitations/implications

Contingency factors were studied independently. Future research might investigate how these factors collectively influence performance measurement practices to make interdependence more explicit.

Practical implications

The theoretical propositions provide useful knowledge for defining a methodology and managerial tool to support performance measurement in SMEs.


This paper defines key contingency factors influencing performance measurement in SMEs; it contributes to clarifying how these factors could influence performance measurement practices in companies.



Garengo, P. and Bititci, U. (2007), "Towards a contingency approach to performance measurement: an empirical study in Scottish SMEs", International Journal of Operations & Production Management, Vol. 27 No. 8, pp. 802-825.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2007, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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