Original Research

Innovation and organisational performance: A critical review of the instruments used to measure organisational performance

Tebogo Sethibe, Renier Steyn
The Southern African Journal of Entrepreneurship and Small Business Management | Vol 8, No 1 | a50 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajesbm.v8i1.50 | © 2016 Tebogo Sethibe, Renier Steyn | This work is licensed under Other
Submitted: 14 March 2016 | Published: 28 October 2016

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Tebogo Sethibe, Graduate School of Business Leadership, University of South Africa, South Africa
Renier Steyn, Graduate School of Business Leadership, University of South Africa, South Africa

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Background: Innovation is recognised as one of the most important determinant of organisational performance. Yet, the results of studies that investigate the relationship between innovation and organisational performance are inconclusive. The inconsistency has been attributed to a number of factors, which include, among others, the measures used to evaluate organisational performance.

Aim: This study was set out to identify, categorise and critically analyse the instruments used to assess organisational performance when investigating the relationship between innovation and organisational performance.

Setting: The study focuses on all scientific publications reporting on organisational performance, inclusive of both financial and non-financial indicators of performance, and are not limited to any specific country or industry.

Methods: The systematic literature review methodology was used to identify studies which investigated the relationship between innovation and organisational performance. Once identified, articles were analysed on the way organisational performance was measured. Classification was done with reference to financial and non-financial indicators, accounting and market-based, as well as objective and subjective measures.

Results: The findings show that profitability, sales growth and return on assets (ROA) are the most preferred accounting-based financial measures of organisation performance. In addition, Tobin’s Q was found to be the most favoured market-based financial measure of organisational performance. The study further reveals that market share, customer satisfaction and productivity are the most popular non-financial-based measures of organisational performance.

Conclusion: The use of measures of organisational performance is often left to the discussion of the researcher, which is not implicitly wrong, but does little to contribute to the body of knowledge on this important topic. Researchers are firstly urged to clearly define which aspects of organisational performance they intend to study, secondly to use established instruments or often used indicators of organisational performance, and thirdly to combine both objective and subjective measures of organisational performance. This would allow for researchers to build on the work of other and strengthen the body of knowledge in this area.


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