The published work in this thesis is based on a number of studies that utilise a suite of (related) “best practice” benchmarking tools, providing an evaluation of the North East England’s manufacturing and service sectors and the UK Further Education sector. Within this submission, a supporting commentary in the form of a critical literature review is provided. The complementary review initially provides an introduction and background to the studies that as a whole comprise this PhD by publication. Consideration is then given to the literature specific to benchmarking, particularly in terms of its role in facilitating organisational improvement and learning, as well as its take-up and applications. The studies described above relate to the implementation of related “best practice” frameworks, yielding data from the self-assessing participating organisations. This leads to the third part of the literature review where the association between practice and performance is assessed relating to certain connected themes. The final part of the commentary assesses the contribution to knowledge that is made by this PhD submission in terms of the literature that existed at the time the constituent papers and reports were developed, along with my specific contribution to these outputs and the potential future research that could lead from this contribution. A key contribution of this work to the benchmarking literature rests in the deployment of a framework in two new sectoral contexts, the regional application being underpinned by a novel approach to supported self-assessment. This complemented the case-based literature dominant at the time, the review providing a critical comparison of “best practice” frameworks and the adoption of generic benchmarking metrics. The empirical assessment of practice against performance suggests that the former does impact on the latter, but with greater influence internally. The association between excellence achievement and stakeholder satisfaction is holistically positive, although the findings are perhaps both less than clear-cut and unexpected. The contribution to knowledge provided here relates to the assessment of the broader service sector, including dual consideration with stakeholder perception and examination of additional performance areas, such as corporate social responsibility, thus moving this evaluation into areas under reported at that time.
|Publication status||In preparation - 2010|