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Weighing elephants with kitchen scales: The relevance of traditional performance measurement tools for social enterprises


  • Hugues Mouchamps


Purpose - – The purpose of this paper is to analyze whether the use of current performance tools is consistent with the specific features of social enterprises. Design/methodology/approach - – In a first phase, the main performance tools are divided into strategic planning tools, reporting tools and economic optimization techniques. In a second phase, 15 criteria emerge from a literature review to characterize the specific features of social enterprises. These criteria are brought together into an analytical framework, which makes it possible to analyze the relevance of each performance tool in relation to the specific features of social enterprises. Findings - – What comes out of the analysis is that the tools globally fail to account for the specific features of social enterprises. That none of them met more than half of the criteria suggests the need for new performance tools based on strong theoretical bases. Research limitations/implications - – Only the main performance tools are taken into account in this study. Some tools developed specifically for social enterprises might score better if they were tested in the framework. Practical implications - – Managers in social enterprises often feel helpless when having to choose or develop a performance evaluation tool. This paper allows them to test whether the tools they use are well suited to social enterprises, and provides them with useful guidelines for developing new ones. Originality/value - – Literature on performance evaluation for nonprofits or social enterprises mostly remains conceptual or focusses on one single tool. The author fills the gap by studying a broad range of performance evaluation tools and comparing them.

Suggested Citation

  • Hugues Mouchamps, 2014. "Weighing elephants with kitchen scales: The relevance of traditional performance measurement tools for social enterprises," International Journal of Productivity and Performance Management, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 63(6), pages 727-745, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:eme:ijppmp:v:63:y:2014:i:6:p:727-745

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