Traditionally, benchmarking has been described as a practice that promotes imitation. However, according to a more recent approach, this paper suggests that benchmarking, looking outside the firm boundaries and enabling comparison with others, in terms of both practices and performances, enable the process of acquiring external explicit and tacit knowledge. Such newly acquired knowledge, once integrated with previous internal knowledge of the firm, creates new knowledge that may give rise to improvements and innovations. In order to study the innovative power of benchmarking, this paper presents a three‐year research undertaken in the maintenance‐services sector that is becoming more and more global and competitive. A model that integrates benchmarking, knowledge management and innovation is presented as the main result of the research.
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