The Evolution Of A Balanced Scorecard

Mary A Malina
Journal of Applied Business Research, Vol 29, Issue 3

Both professionals and academics have long criticized the use of traditional financial performance measures and called for balance in performance measurement systems. In 1992, Kaplan and Norton introduced the Balanced Scorecard and it has been adopted widely around the world and offered as a superior combination of nonfinancial and financial measures of performance. This paper is the result of a 15-year field study of a Fortune 500 company’s Balanced Scorecard. Both qualitative and quantitative data were collected to address the following research questions with respect to the Balanced Scorecard: 1) What has changed over time? 2) What has not changed over time? 3) Why has it endured? Changes highlighted are that the Balanced Scorecard was unaffected by a major change in organizational structure, a narrowing of focus and reduction in the scope over time, processes for changing the design were formalized, and that it has become engrained in the compensation system. Factors that have remained constant over time are the purpose of the Balanced Scorecard, its use for relative performance evaluation, and its use as a tool for best practice sharing. Two factors that appear to explain why it has endured are its use as a learning and communication tool and its ability to influence behavior. The paper concludes with a list of key success factors for building and sustaining a successful scorecard. This list might also be helpful to researchers seeking to investigate the design, use or impact of a Balanced Scorecard.