Collaborative Benchmarking in the Danish District-Heating Sector

International Journal of Public Sector Management 29(5):502-529, 2016

Posted: 19 Mar 2020

See all articles by Per Nikolaj Bukh

Per Nikolaj Bukh

Aalborg University - Department of Business and Management

Lars Dietrichson

Aarhus University - Department of Economics and Business Economics

Date Written: May 11, 2016

Abstract

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

Bukh, Per Nikolaj and Dietrichson, Lars, Collaborative Benchmarking in the Danish District-Heating Sector (May 11, 2016). International Journal of Public Sector Management 29(5):502-529, 2016, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3542781

Per Nikolaj Bukh (Contact Author)

Aalborg University - Department of Business and Management ( email )

Aalborg, DK-9220
Denmark

Lars Dietrichson

Aarhus University - Department of Economics and Business Economics ( email )

Fuglesangs Allé 4
Aarhus V, 8210
Denmark

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