An empirical study of the Balanced Scorecard as a flexible strategic management and reporting tool

Laura Broccardo


The goal of this study is to point out two relevant aspects of the Balanced Scorecard development.

The first aspect regards the flexibility of this tool. Although Kaplan and Norton, in the architecture of the BSC, identify four perspectives, these are not a bound prescription. The Balanced Scorecard should be in fact a "dress made to measure" for every specific organization. To effectively represent the firm's strategy it is necessary to identify and develop specific indicators for every stakeholder category. In some cases it is also useful to consider other stakeholders in addition to the classical ones (shareholders, customers and employees). In the sample analysed it was necessary to add one further stakeholder, which impacts significantly on the profitability of these firms. In the case of the BSC such results could be obtained by adding a new perspective (five instead of four), thus underlining the flexibility of the tool.

The second aspect concerns the innovative applications of this tool in the reporting process. The BSC is a tool for management and not only for performance measurement. Considering the BSC as a guide in the reporting process, its use was tested to highlight the achievement of goals, the correctness of the key actions and the causes of success and failure.

The research was conducted through the exploratory case study method. The choice of a case study is one of the most appropriate methods of empirical inquiry, as qualitative studies are rendered necessary where organizational processes are involved, and also because budgetary practices and procedures have traditionally been investigated within the organizational context in which they operate (Yin, 1990; Hofstede, 1968; Hopwood, 1972). The results are based on interviews with the management. The sample is composed of three firms that operate successfully in the quick-service industry.

The relevance of this research was justified by the growth of the quick-service industry and also by the sample analyzed, which includes companies operating with success on both the Italian and foreign markets. This study contributes to emphasizing the evolution of the BSC as a flexible strategic management tool.


balanced scorecard, flexible tool, innovative reporting

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Registered by the Cancelleria del Tribunale di Pavia N. 685/2007 R.S.P. – electronic ISSN 2038-5498


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