Collaborative Benchmarking in the Danish District-Heating Sector
International Journal of Public Sector Management 29(5):502-529, 2016
Posted: 19 Mar 2020
Date Written: May 11, 2016
Purpose – The purpose of this paper is threefold: to investigate why and how companies in voluntary networks engage in performance bench-marking; how requirements for a standardized chart of accounts are handled; and what the role of regulatory pressure is.
Design/methodology/approach – The paper is based on a longitudinal case study of an established group of six district-heating companies. The data sources are semi-structured interviews, observations and documents.
Findings – Both the forthcoming re-regulation of the district-heating sector and aims to improve efficiency were motivating the collaboration among the firms. An interpretation of common accounting rules can be negotiated in a collaborative network. The bench-marking model was embedded in routines internally in firms to facilitate learning and knowledge exchange, but it was also used to legitimize current operations.
Research limitations/implications – As the paper is based on a case study of a specific project, the issues discussed in the paper should be further investigated in similar firms being exposed to regulation.
Practical implications – Harmonization of accounting data are of immense importance when bench-marking performance, but discretion in interpretations of data and results must be handled. Co-existence with existing rules and procedures should be allowed.
Originality/value – The paper contributes to research understanding the role of collaboration in voluntary networks when bench-marking is implemented.
Keywords: Public Sector, Collaboration, Bench-marking, Accounting Change, Regulation, District-Heating
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation