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How do contingency factors influence the content of balanced scorecards? An empirical study of French intermediate-sized enterprises

Mohamed Bouamama (ESCA – School of Management, Casablanca, Morocco)
Sami Basly (Paris Nanterre University, Nanterre, France)
Houda Zian (Audencia Business School, Nantes, France)

Journal of Accounting & Organizational Change

ISSN: 1832-5912

Article publication date: 8 February 2021

Issue publication date: 1 June 2021




Notwithstanding a number of studies that led to the development of different performance measurement systems incorporating contingency factors, very scarce research on the variety of balanced scorecards (BSCs) indicators used in performance management were carried out in France. Accordingly, the purpose of this paper is to investigate if there is a significant relationship between contingency factors and the content of balanced scorecards in terms of the degree of use and a variety of performance indicators.


In total, 2,580 French intermediate-sized enterprises (ISE) were identified through the Diane Database (Bureau Van Dijck) then contacted by the means of a survey questionnaire that was built online using LimeSurvey software. This study receives 156 complete and usable responses. The research model was tested through multiple regressions and multi-group analyses.


The results show that ISEs financial managers do not use, to the same extent, all the indicators constituting the four dimensions of BSCs. Therefore, BSCs implemented by French ISEs can be described as “unbalanced”. Furthermore, three contingency factors (computerization, decentralization and market listing) were found to be significantly associated with the variety and degree of use of performance indicators in balanced scorecards. The remaining contingency and control factors did not seem to influence the degree of use and variety of BSCs content.

Practical implications

The findings highlight the importance of developing tools that have the potential to evolve in line with organizational, environmental and technological changes. Furthermore, this paper provides food for thought for financial directors and management controllers as to how to better meet senior management, managers and operational staff information needs.


While there is scarce academic work on BSCs in ISEs, the present research is, to the best of the knowledge, one of the rarest to apply and test a contingency approach on a sample of ISEs.



The authors would like to thank the editor-in-chief and the anonymous reviewers for their helpful and constructive comments that greatly contributed to improving the final version of the manuscript.


Bouamama, M., Basly, S. and Zian, H. (2021), "How do contingency factors influence the content of balanced scorecards? An empirical study of French intermediate-sized enterprises", Journal of Accounting & Organizational Change, Vol. 17 No. 3, pp. 373-393.



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