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Convergence versus divergence of performance measurement systems: Lessons from spatial variations

Mostafa Jazayeri (Department of Business and Management Studies, Manchester Metropolitan University, Crewe, UK)
Danture Wickramsinghe (University of Hull, Hull, UK)
Tharusha Gooneratne (School of Accounting, La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia)

Qualitative Research in Accounting & Management

ISSN: 1176-6093

Article publication date: 30 August 2011




The purpose of this paper is to report on two institutional change scenarios of performance measurement (PM) systems, namely, subversion and integration. Subversion represents insiders' use of existing institutional logic whereas integration represents insiders' use of imported institutional logic.


The scenarios are drawn from two case studies: BAE Systems (a large UK manufacturing company) and Alpha (a medium‐sized Sri Lankan manufacturing company). The data were collected through in‐depth interviews and documentary sources.


An internal “culture change programme” led to a business value scorecard (BVS) in BAE Systems, and an external knowledge diffusion programme gave rise to a balanced scorecard (BSC) in Alpha. The culture change programme was facilitated by a particular institutional logic resulting in a successful BVS practice. In contrast, at Alpha, the BSC project was externally imposed, although it was designed with the blessing of the owner‐manager. This triggered internal controversies and the workforce became unreceptive. Consequently, attention was diverted to other management fads such as total quality management, Six Sigma, and enterprise resource planning but these were also short lived.

Research limitations/implications

While this paper provides evidence on practice variation and adds to neoinstitutional‐based management accounting research, the empirical materials, however, did not allow the authors to trace all four scenarios in the typology.

Practical implications

PM systems, such as the BSC, seem to be malleable and adaptable to local requirements subject to organisational and managerial flexibility and democratic possibilities.


This research highlights how the institutional environment is fragmented and contested, in different organisational and political conditions and spaces, resulting in variation in practices.



Jazayeri, M., Wickramsinghe, D. and Gooneratne, T. (2011), "Convergence versus divergence of performance measurement systems: Lessons from spatial variations", Qualitative Research in Accounting & Management, Vol. 8 No. 3, pp. 292-314.



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Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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