The purpose of this paper is to review the epistemology of benchmarking and identify methodological elements of a theory of benchmarking.
A thematic approach is applied to origins, primal and functional definitions of benchmarking.
Benchmarking remains theoretically underdetermined, with publications focusing on pragmatism and praxis rather than epistemology. Analysis of the literature leads to a new definition of benchmarking focusing around the teleological processes that lead to state‐transformation of organizations.
A theoretical foundation for benchmarking should be consistent with current organizational paradigms. Going forward the paper aims to develop a theory of benchmarking based on illustrative model derived from the thematic review.
The paper initiates the development of a more rigorous theoretical base for future benchmarking practice, which will strengthen organizations' business cases for undertaking such processes.
Recasts much of the extant literature in beginning to focus on the fundamentals of benchmarking.
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