Factors behind Organizational Learning from Benchmarking: Experiences from Norwegian Municipal Benchmarking Networks

Askim, Jostein; Johnsen, Åge; Christopherson, Knut-Andreas
April 2008
Journal of Public Administration Research & Theory;Apr2008, Vol. 18 Issue 2, p297
Academic Journal
Benchmarking rests on the assumption that it supports organizational learning and innovation, but the empirical knowledge that underpins this perceived means-end relationship is limited. This article draws on existing research to develop a framework for analyzing organizational learning outcomes from municipal benchmarking. The framework incorporates explanatory factors at different levels (network and municipality), and with different time perspectives (past and present). Empirical results from a nationwide Norwegian benchmarking project indicate that municipalities do obtain organizational learning from benchmarking but that care must be taken when organizational learning is conceptualized and assessed. Learning should incorporate aiding agenda setting and decision making, as well as changes. Factors such as network and administrative characteristics and management and political participation are found to influence learning outcomes. There are also indications that learning from benchmarking is subject to politics. Notably, nonsocialist political regimes are less receptive to organizational learning than other regimes and political competition enhances organizational learning from benchmarking.


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