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When is a balanced scorecard a balanced scorecard?

Marvin Soderberg (Alberta Union of Public Employees, Edmonton, Canada)
Suresh Kalagnanam (Edwards School of Business, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Canada)
Norman T. Sheehan (Edwards School of Business, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Canada)
Ganesh Vaidyanathan (Edwards School of Business, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Canada)

International Journal of Productivity and Performance Management

ISSN: 1741-0401

Article publication date: 20 September 2011




The Balanced Scorecard (BSC) is widely applied as a performance measurement and strategy implementation tool by organizations. Research has revealed that the term “balanced scorecard” may be understood differently by managers both within as well as across organizations implying that the performance measurement systems implemented in organizations may not be similar to the construct envisioned by Kaplan and Norton. Using Kaplan and Norton's Balanced Scorecard construct as a basis, the paper aims to develop and test a five‐level taxonomy to classify firms' performance measurement systems.


A Balanced Scorecard taxonomy is validated using a large sample of professional accountants working in Canadian organizations.


The five‐level taxonomy is used to categorize the performance measurement systems of 149 organizations. It is found that 111 organizations' (74.5 percent) performance measurement systems met the criteria to be classified as a Basic Level 1 BSC, while 61 (40.9 percent) organizations have structurally complete Level 3 BSCs, and 36 (24.2 percent) organizations have fully developed Level 5 BSCs. The paper also discusses differences between Level 1 and Level 5 BSC organizations.

Research limitations/implications

While many researchers assume that organizations' performance measurement systems are similar in implementation level and use, the paper demonstrates that organizations are at different levels of BSC implementation and use, a factor that should be taken into consideration when designing empirical studies to test the efficacy of Kaplan and Norton's BSC.

Practical implications

The five‐level BSC taxonomy scheme provides managers working with Kaplan and Norton's BSC with a tool to plan their implementation steps and then benchmark their progress towards implementing a fully developed Level 5 BSC.


In developing and empirically validating a BSC taxonomy, the paper builds on and extends previous research on BSC implementation and its potential implications.



Soderberg, M., Kalagnanam, S., Sheehan, N.T. and Vaidyanathan, G. (2011), "When is a balanced scorecard a balanced scorecard?", International Journal of Productivity and Performance Management, Vol. 60 No. 7, pp. 688-708.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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