Benchmarking Literature (Part 1)

I found some of the readers of this blog is keen on benchmarking and KM topic, here i would like to share some literature on Benchmarking. I will post some writing on KM soon. Happy sharing!


Camp (1989) defined benchmarking as a search of industry best practices for superior performance. At the beginning, benchmarking emerged as a management tool to improve business by extensive comparison of the competitor (benchmarking service). However, through time benchmarking definition and concept has evolve from systematic process of evaluation of product and process (Camp, 1989) to the adaptation of best practices (Murray et al, 1997). In general, Benchmarking is continues process of identification, learning and implementation of best practices in order to obtain competitive advantages, whether internal, external or generic (ibid). The objective of most Benchmarking studies is to discover new practices that are radically different from its usual practice that will improve overall performance.

Benchmarking origin and definition

Quit often, the benchmarking concept is understood to be an act of copying and imitation. But in reality this proves to be a concept that helps in innovation rather than imitation. Ironically, Benchmarking linguistic roots lie in the land surveyor’s term, where benchmark was distinctive marked served as reference point on determining current position or altitude in topographical survey and tidal observation (ASTD, 1995). There is no single definition reflecting the meaning of Benchmarking, but scholars agreed that Benchmarking is a systematic and continues process of searching, learning, adapting and implementing the best practices from within the organization or from other organization towards attaining superior performance (NPC, Malaysia, 2007). Benchmarking is also defined as learning by borrowing from the best and adapting their approach to fit own needs (ASTD, 1995). Two most prominent researchers in this field (Sylvia Codling and Robert Camp) define Benchmarking as identifying and comparing performance against the owner at process regarded best in class (Codling, 1992) and as continues process of measuring against the best in the industry (Camp, 1989).

Type of Benchmarking

There are several type of Benchmarking study in the literature that reflects different objectives and purposes. The classification of Benchmarking process can be defined based on ‘what is compared and what is comparison is being made against’ as observed by Bhutta & Huq (1999). Benchmarking classification observed by Bhutta & Huq (1999) are as follows:

  • Performance Benchmarking - Comparison of performance measure for the purpose of determining how good is the company as compared to others
  • Process Benchmarking - Methods and process are compared in an efforts to improve the process
  • Strategic Benchmarking – Comparison made to change strategic direction of the companies and comparison in term of strategies
  • Internal Benchmarking - Comparison is made between department of the same companies
  • Competitive Benchmarking – Comparison against the best competition in the market to compare performance and results
  • Functional Benchmarking – Comparison of the technology and process in the industry to become the best in the area
  • Generic Benchmarking - Comparison of process against the best process operators regardless of industry

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