Assessment of Balanced Scorecard Implementation and its Challenges. The Case of Ethiopian Railways Corporation

Research Paper (postgraduate), 2019

29 Pages, Grade: 3.68



1. Introduction

2. Literature Review
2.1 Public service reform initiatives in Ethiopia
2.2 Concept of Balanced Scorecard
2.3 The Origins of the Balanced Scorecard
2.4 Implementation perspectives of balanced scorecard
2.5 Empirical Review
2.6 Conceptual Framework

3. Methodology
3.1 Validity and Reliability Test

4. Data Analysis and Interpretation
4.1 Respondents Demographic Information
4.2 Analysis of the Variables

5. Conclusion & Recommendation



The Balanced Score Card (BSC) is one of the most popular Public service reform initiatives in Ethiopia that tries to translate a company’s strategic direction and objectives into actionable initiatives and measurements. The major purpose of this study was to assess the status and challenges faced while implementing the balanced scorecard reform initiative in ERC. Descriptive method of research with a mixed approach of qualitative and quantitative theme was applied. Out of the non-probability sampling purposive sampling has been used. Relevant data for the study was collected using questionnaire and semi structured interview and 81 questionnaires (30% from the total population of 270) were distributed, from this 79 (97.5%) were collected. Then, data collected through questionnaires were analyzed using SPSS Version 24 software and presented by table, bar graph and pie chart. Interview and document analysis were also made to complement the information obtained. The major findings of the study revealed that employees understanding on the vision and strategic objectives and employees positive perception regards to BSC initiative relevance is a good opportunity for ERC. whereas, lack of committed management and employee, manpower skill gap and lack of training, ineffective communication with employees, lack of monitoring and evaluation system are the variables that are statistically significant and have influence on balanced scorecard reform implementation at the Corporation. Therefore, it is recommended that ERC should strength the commitment of management and employee by providing adequate and continuous refreshment training on the concept of Balanced Scorecard.

Keywords: Balanced scorecard, Public service reform, Ethiopian Railways Corporation (ERC), Implementation.

1. Introduction

The civil service reforms pursued in Ethiopia to date have been wide-ranging, and have included the adoption and implementation of a number of tools. Key reform tools deployed include Business Process Reengineering (BPR), Balanced Scorecard (BSC), Citizens Charter, and the Change Army. These have been successively introduced to improve service delivery, and enhance transparency and accountability in the civil service (World Bank, 2019). The Balanced Score Card (BSC) is one of the most popular Public service reform initiatives in Ethiopia. In this regard, it is imperative to assess how the approaches used in introducing new performance measures through the use of BSC have resulted with respect to their intended outcomes. It is also important to consider the organizations that have implemented BSC with comparatively more professional service coaching and follow up during its implementation in order to identify the status and drawbacks of applying BSC as a reform tool. The Balanced Scorecard model was developed by Kaplan and Norton (1992) to address the problems and limitations of relying solely on financial measures. The model integrates financial and non-financial measures to combat the historical (lagging) nature of most accounting measurement systems, along with their potential for manipulation by senior executives, misdirection and short-termism (Norreklit, Jacobsen & Mitchell, 2008:65). The Balanced Scorecard model was designed to combat over-reliance on purely financial measurement systems in assessing corporate performance. While it retains the financial perspective, the Balanced Scorecard model also incorporates three more perspectives: the customer, internal business processes, and innovation (learning and growth) perspectives (Kaplan & Norton, 1992, 1996a, 1996b, 1996c). The model has achieved worldwide recognition and acceptance as both a performance measurement framework and a corporate planning tool (Khomba, 2011). The Balanced Scorecard (BSC) is a strategic management system that aims to clarify strategy and to translate it into action (Kaplan and Norton, 1992, 1996 and 2001, 2004, 2006; Kaplan, 2010). It is widely used by organizations as a tool to assess and manage their companies’ performance. In their past studies, Kaplan and Norton have emphasized the need for companies to align the BSC with their strategy in order to reach maximum benefits (Braam, 2010). The strategy execution of the Balanced Scorecard model still poses challenges for many organizations. Many executive managers are still not aware of the different approaches possible in dealing with strategic and operational activities (Kaplan & Norton, 2008a:4-22; Weil, 2007:1). This implies that there is more to using the Balanced Scorecard model conceptualization than just implementing the model. The Balanced Scorecard model may require changes in the culture within the organization and a transformation of internal business processes and practices for it to be successful. An empirical study has revealed low ratings in the relationship of corporate performance and the use of the Balanced Scorecard measurement system –Ittner and Larcker (2001:371) found that the implementation of a Balanced Scorecard compensation plan in one of the retail banks in the USA brought about no significant change in the managers’ understanding of corporate strategic goals. Hence the cause-and-effect relationships proclaimed by the Balanced Scorecard model were non-existent in this scenario. The relationships between perspectives could also complicate the weighting of the perspectives themselves, as they cannot be ranked equally (Khomba, 2011). Balanced score card was introduced in the ERC on date July, 2015. Starting from then the Corporation makes effort to achieve the expected targets using key performance indicator (KPI) evaluation on daily terms and other parameters which divided in four perspectives (customer, finance, internal process and learning and growth) but face lots of obstacles in the implementation, according to the Minute meeting report and monthly evaluation report, the implementation is not at excepted level. And since this system is new to the company there was no such studies made in order to show the challenges during the implementation and give recommendations to elevate the problem. The factors are still there and affecting the implementation so that this study is going to prepared to identify those factors which affect the implementation and give constructive feedback to the Corporation.

Balanced scorecard has promised many benefits, mainly there are two benefits organizations can expect from effectively implementing the balanced scorecard. These are operational and strategic benefits among the operational benefits; the major one is tracking progress toward achieving organizational goals, measuring performance at various levels from various perspectives. On the other hand, major strategic benefits are communicating strategy to everyone, and linking and aligning the organization around strategy. In spite of the benefits that are promised by the balanced scorecard, practical studies show that there are challenges of implementation (Marr, 2010). Many organizations assume that once senior management have agreed on their Balanced Scorecard, strategic map and their indicators everyone will happily implement it and collect and report the data. Don’t underestimate the need for training and communication about the Balanced Scorecard initiative and its aims and objectives. Again, this is especially important since there are so many different interpretations of what a Balanced Scorecard is and what it is for. Experience has shown that the support of lower and middle tier managers is essential for the success (Marr, 2010).one of the main problems with Balanced Scorecards arises when senior managers use the performance indicators identified to apply a command-and-control approach in which they use the indicators to punish or reward people. This creates fear, resistance and cheating. Instead, managers should use their Balanced Scorecards to foster a learning culture where everybody is encouraged to collect performance information to improve future performance (Marr, 2010). Another problem that organizations frequently make is jumping into a measurement program too fast and making the program too complicated. Deriving meaningful measurements, gathering reliable data, developing useful analytical techniques and educating managers about how to use the data are all difficult steps (Mamushet, 2015).

Ethiopian Government has launched a massive civil service reform program throughout the country by 2002; all public institutions are compelled to re-engineer their services to become responsive, efficient and effective of their performance. The Government has given high emphasis and dedication towards institutional excellence. At present, almost all public institutions are undertaking Balanced Scorecard (BSC) as a strategic planning and management tool to measure work performance of any organization. Among the effects for public sector reform is the efforts to improve public sector services, through process improvement. The reforming aimed at promotion of efficiency (cost-effectiveness) and provision of effective services to the public (Mamushet, 2015). The need for improvement in performance and level of service delivery in line with the reform program promoted the use of Balanced Scorecard as a key instrument & management initiative tool for measuring and managing performance particularly in the ERC. However, the achievement of such required efficiency in performance at the Corporation has been hindered by different factors. The recurring customer and staff complaints can be cited as major signals for the gap in performance concerning internal business process & management of human resources. The major statement of the problems of the study can be categorized as Problems related to operational factors such as weak interface among work units, delayed decision-making and weak monitoring system. Problems related to Employee-Employer factors such as lack of commitment and sense of ownership, inappropriate perception and poor communication, biased performance evaluation in some processes and poor linkage of performance results to benefit packages and promotional scheme which is contrary to the principles of BSC, resistance by some employees and unorganized human resource management are the other challenges for implementing BSC successfully. So, it has become imperative to identify the challenges and assign causations for the next round of reforms to be effective by way of devising mechanisms to cope with these challenges (ERC, 2018).

The main objective of this research is to assess and find out the status and the challenges that hindered successful implementation of Balanced Scorecard (BSC) reform initiative and to identify the prospects in implementing Balanced Scorecard in ERC. The specific objectives are (a)To assess the status of BSC implementation in ERC. (b)To identify challenges faced in the implementation process of BSC reform initiative. (c)To evaluate the understanding and commitment of employees and managers towards the reform objectives and (d)To describe the perception of employees toward the BSC reform initiative implemented.

The Balanced Scorecard is a change, communication and strategic management package designed and implemented in the entire public sector of the country. Effective implementation of BSC in the company helps to achieve organization objective and enables staffs to share the company strategy and evaluate their contribution in the company. The outcome of this study will help ERC to pin point the important challenges that exist currently while implementing BSC and take remedial actions for suitable positive results. Moreover, the result from this research will assist the Corporation to improve its BSC practice by identifying challenges associated with BSC implementation. In addition to this the finding will give an insight for other researchers who are interested to assess status and implementation challenges of BSC of other organization.

2. Literature Review

2.1 Public service reform initiatives in Ethiopia

Ethiopia stands out as a country that has undertaken extensive civil service reforms during the last 20 years and with some documented positive impacts. In particular, Ethiopia has deployed a range of approaches that broadly fall into the category of ‘New Public Management’ (NPM). The main successive reform tools include Business Process Re-engineering (BPR), Balanced Scorecard (BSC), Citizens Charters, as well as the introduction of a Change Army. While both BPR and BSC are classic ‘New Public Management’ style reforms (World Bank, 2019).

2.2 Concept of Balanced Scorecard

Balanced Scorecard is a performance management tool that enables a company to translate its vision and strategy into a tangible set of performance measures. However, it is more than a measuring device (Kaplan and Norton1996b). It is also defined by Balanced Scorecard Institution as astrategic planning and management system that is used extensively in business and industry, government, and non profits organizations worldwide to align business activities to the vision and strategy of the organization, improve internal and external communications, and monitor organization performance against strategic goals (Mamushet, 2015). Initially the BSC was developed as a comprehensive performance measurement system encompassing a coherent set of financial and non-financial performance measures covering different perspectives of the organization (Kaplan and Norton, 1992). Managers did not only focus on financial measures when taking decisions, but also non-financial criteria had to be taken into account. When integrated carefully and in a balanced manner in a “scorecard” it would provide managers with a comprehensive and timely view of their business. Four different key perspectives were identified as being critical and thus should be included, i.e., the financial, customer, internal-business-process, learning and growth perspective. Since 1996, the authors have extended their view, developing and formally proposing it as a strategic management system stressing the importance of aligning the scorecard-information with the business strategy. To translate the strategic goals efficiently into tangible objectives and measures, Kaplan and Norton suggested four interrelated management processes: clarifying and translating vision and strategy, communicating and linking strategic objectives and measures, business planning and target setting, and enhancing strategic feedback and learning. In 2001, Kaplan and Norton introduced five principles to strategically focus organizational management processes: translate the strategy into operational terms, align the organization to the strategy, make strategy everyone’s everyday job, make strategy a continual process, and mobilize change through executive leadership. Subsequently, they extended and refined the tool by describing and explaining the tool’s management processes and principles in more detail and by showing how strategy may be “mapped” using a formal and integrated set of financial and non-financial strategic performance measures allowing for alignment between the control system and firm strategy (Kaplan and Norton, 2004, 2006; Kaplan, 2010) (Braam, G. 2010).

2.3 The Origins of the Balanced Scorecard

The Balanced Scorecard was developed by Robert Kaplan, a Harvard University professor, and David Norton, a consultant from the area of Boston. In 1990 they started research in several companies with the aim of exploring new methods of performance measurement. Traditionally, industries had been relying mainly on financial measures to indicate performance. Many criticisms arose about using only financial measures to track organization performance. In their study, Kaplan and Norton argue that financial measures were too one sided and not relevant to many levels in the organization and that reliance only on financial measures may affect the ability of organizations to create value (Niven, 2006) (Pujas, 2010). According to Kaplan (2010), the conception of the performance measurement using both financial and non financial metrics dates back to 1950s when General Electronics Company introduced these two parameters to measure divisional performance for its business lines before it took its current form. As Kaplan notes, it is unfortunate that - the noble goals of the 1950s GE corporate project never got ingrained into the management system and incentive structure of GE‘s line business units (Kaplan, 2010, p.5). As the traditional industry performance measurement systems mainly relied on financial information, they were subject to criticisms for ignoring other intangible assets which are critical drivers of future financial performance , and hence lack the ability to track overall organizational performance. It was in response to these growing criticisms that the Balanced Scorecard was developed by Robert Kaplan, who was an accounting professor at Harvard University and David Norton, a consultant from the Boston area in 1992. The BSC was, therefore, developed by its proponents in a way that can measure all aspects of an organization using four dimensions: customer, internal business process, learning & growth, and financial perspectives after extensive study made by Kaplan and Norton. Currently, it is implemented as a strategic planning and management system that is used extensively in business and industry, government and non for profit organizations worldwide.

2.4 Implementation perspectives of balanced scorecard

Balanced Scorecard (BSC) is a performance measurement that translates a firm’s strategy into clear measures, objectives, targets, and initiatives. It classifies such initiatives into four perspectives: financial, customer, business processes, and human resources or innovation and learning (Kassahun, 2010). Each of the perspective represents a different aspect of the business organization which operates at optimal capacity.

a. Financial Perspective

Al-Najjar and Kalaf (2012) showed that financial measures convey the economic consequences for the actions taken by the firm. The focus is on the profitability related measures. These measures help stakeholders in the firm confirm the profitability of their investments. This perspective can provide viable and significant information that will assist management monitor the performance of the firm as well as improve motivation and communication and spot problems.

b. Customer Perspective

According to Kairu, Wafula, Okaka, Odera, and Akereke (2013) customer perspective captures the ability of the organization to provide quality goods and services for their customers. It also looks at effectiveness of their service delivery, and the overall customer service and satisfaction. This perspective helps measure the level of customer satisfaction, customer retention and market share of the firm.

c. Business Process Perspective

Gekonge (2005) asserted that the business processes perspective focuses on the internal business which will result in financial success and satisfaction of customers. This includes cost and quality related to the business processes.

d. Learning and Growth Perspective

Kaplan and Norton (1992) showed that a company innovative ability, learning and growth perspective examines the ability of employees proxied by skills, talents, knowledge and training; the quality of information systems captured by systems, databases and networks; and the effects of organizational alignment proxied by culture, leadership, alignment and teamwork, in supporting the accomplishment of organizational objectives. Gekonge (2005) argued that it consists of measures such as employee satisfaction, employee retention and knowledge management. The import of the foregoing is that the balanced scorecard involves a holistic model that links individual efforts and accomplishments to each business unit objectives (Emma I. Okoye, Augustine Nwekemezie Odum,Chinwe Gloria Odum, 2017).

Balanced Scorecards, when developed as strategic planning and management systems, can help align an organization behind a shared vision of success, and get people working on the right things and focusing on results. A scorecard is more than a way of keeping score… is a system, consisting of people, strategy, processes, and technology in a manageable way (Rohm, 2012). Due to this, it is critical to put it into action. Hence, different scholars argued that implementation is fundamental issue of any model to evaluate its effectiveness in the real world. When we deeply insight into balanced scorecard constituents, it enables us to visualize collection of interconnected gauges which show organization’s finance and operations. In turn how organization is performing and going on will be easily perceived. Thus, balanced scorecard requests everyone to imagine its organization’s mission and strategy from four pillars of perspectives (Kaplan and Norton, 1992, 1996; Kaplan, 2001, 2010).

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Figure 1: balanced score card framework

Source: Adapted from Kaplan & Norton (1996, P.76)

Effective implementation of BSC in public sector is a mandatory that enables organization to convert its unique and complex strategy into simplified and a common term which can be easily understood, shared, communicated and executed. Thus, organization tries to link performance management programs with its strategic goals and tactical objectives that scale up the concept of balanced scorecard. Thus, exercising the technique becomes so difficult when critical care is not taken by everybody in the organizational community. That why the coiners give attention to the excursion parts and based on this issue Kaplan and Norton (2008) argued that implementation stage must be adapted in six stages in simultaneously with integrating strategy planning and operational execution in a close loop manner.

2.5 Empirical Review

Principles of Balanced Scorecard are easily understood in terms of concept whereas to put them into action is too much vague and complex because of non-identifiable among: Operational and strategic performance management:-Implementation of the strategies; Cascading from top stage of the sector to employee position; Relation among strategic, financial and physical plan; and that becomes too much difficult to distinguish their bounders in order to accomplish. Thus, to implement effectively, all must be able to separate and interconnect these factors but everyone cannot link as per the system requests (Lonescu, 2012). Different studies have been investigated the impact of the Balanced Scorecard (BSC) on firm value. The study’s empirical results showed that BSC use will not automatically improve company performance, unless it is properly applied. The following are the challenges identified in implementing a balanced scorecard: linkages between non financial and financial measures must be obtained and this usually creates a necessity for change. There may not be improvement on all the measures all the time. There is usually a need to use both objective and subjective measures. The implementation of the balanced scorecard require IT resource, extant literatures affirm that more than half the businesses in US embraced the balanced score card. API (2012) quoting the Gartner group suggests that over 50% of large US firms had adopted the BSC while 44% of organizations use the BSC. It was stated further that in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, 26% of firms use the BSC. In Nigeria however the BSC has not been given wide recognition. Equally, choosing a balanced scorecard solution may be risky as there are over two dozen solution providers. Determining the best offer require experience and knowledge of the tool. Etim and Agara (2011) examined how BSC has contributed to firms’ performance in Nigeria. Their study confirmed that firms that have implemented BSC have indicated positive recovery under-performance conditions and as well as reverse their losses. However, their study suggested that a fifth perspective be introduced that will capture the environment and culture because of the critical roles environment and culture play in the survival of any organization. Yung-Chieh (2012) in his study aimed at verifying the influence of balanced scorecard implemented by Taiwan LED listed companies on the accumulation of the intellectual capital with organizational commitment as an interference variable using management of human resource, finance, production and marketing departments and staff of production departments as research subjects. It was found that the balanced scorecard implemented by Taiwan LED-listed companies influences the intellectual capital (Emma I. Okoye, Augustine Nwekemezie Odum,Chinwe Gloria Odum, 2017).

With the intention of efficiency and effectiveness, both private and public sectors are adopted balanced scorecard system. To this effect, several impressive results and critical obstacles are recognized in implementing BSC. Because of the recent adoption of BSC in public sectors of Ethiopia, few researches are undertaken. Some of them are conducted by Adebabay (2011), Tilaye (2010) and Tamiru (2013). Thus still there are empirical gaps on the scheme.

2.6 Conceptual Framework

Regardless of all the popular benefits that are promised by the balanced scorecard, empirical studies, such as Pujas (2010), show that the following are key success factors of BSC implementation.

Balanced Scorecard Concept Clarity: refers to the failure to understand what exactly the Balanced Scorecard is and what its implementation involves.

Executive Sponsorship: represents the support of the top management of the organization during the development and implementation of the system.

Lack of BSC Training: like any system, the implementation of the balanced scorecard, requires the creation of sufficient awareness which obviously requires conducting continuous training and education.

Inadequate IT Support: According to Niven (2006), the problem of gathering and entering data into the Balanced Scorecard is emphasized during the implementation process. To overcome such problem and smooth the implementation process, the system should be supported by an appropriate IT system.

Effective Project Team: To create a Balanced Scorecard that is capable of implementing the company strategy, linking individuals, creating new behavior and enhancing communication, a team of people are needed. Many ambitious initiatives have failed just because they were led by ineffective teams.

Lack of Participation: According to Pujas (2010), during the implementation process, if the importance of employee involvement is not understood, the organization may miss the opportunity to benefit from the employees’ knowledge that is directly related to the areas in which they exert influence.

Planning and Communication: similar to any system, the implementation of the balanced scorecard system requires a precise development plan to guide the selected team during the BSC journey. Without a formal plan showing the implementation path in advance, there is the risk of confusion.

Finally, the researchers presuppose that if such success factors are well addressed in the stated public Organization, the overall implementation of the balanced scorecard system, as their performance measurement and strategic management system would be successful.

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Figure 2: Conceptual Framework

Source: self developed, 2019

3. Methodology

This study was conducted at Ethiopian Railways Corporation which is located in Kirkos sub city, Addis Ababa. The Ethiopian Railways Corporation (ERC) was established on 28 November 2007 by regulation 141/2007 of the Council of Ministers of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia. The regulation mandates ERC to develop railway infrastructure and provide passenger and freight rail transportation services in Ethiopia. ERC’s key objective is to develop an integrated and high capacity railway transport system to ensure competitive and affordable transport. ERC has developed railway projects on eight corridors in the country that have been identified as necessary to enhance both the social and economic needs. This Corporation currently has over 270 Managers, Engineer professionals and non-Engineer staff in 22 departments. In this study, descriptive survey method was employed in order to describe the opinions of employees and management group to assess the Balanced Scorecard implementation and its challenges in the Corporation. The design of the research is descriptive since it allows the collection of data through questionnaires on the bases of sample, which helps to find out the view of the population and explain the phenomena as it is and also helps to answer “what is” questions. The researcher was used both primary and secondary data sources to obtain data concerning the status and challenges faced in the BSC Reform initiative implementation. The primary data were collected using questionnaires addressed in both close and open-ended form and semi structured interview. Likert type scale of measurement was used to determine the level of agreement or disagreement represented by numerical values ranging from one to five. The open ended questions were aimed to enable to discover the feelings, opinions, and practical experiences of performers about status and challenges of BSC implementation. Interviews were conducted with Six (6) management members and five (5) non-management members (IT professionals and Change Agents). The secondary data was drawn from theoretical reviews, BSC and other relevant Civil service reform documents.The pools of population for this study were management members, non management staff of ERC. Only employees who have worked for or more than a year in the Corporation has been included in the pool as recently recruited employees may not have deep knowledge of the Balanced Scorecard implementation and its challenges in the Corporation. Therefore, the researcher has been selected 81 respondents, (30% from the total population of 270) as a source of information for this study. Findings of the study are categorized and presented under thematic areas and analyzed using different descriptive statistical tools such as bar graphs, pie charts, tables, frequencies and percentages accompanied by supporting qualitative information. SPSS software version 24 was applied in analyzing the data.

3.1 Validity and Reliability Test

Validity and reliability are two fundamental elements in the evaluation of a measurement instrument. Validity 'refers to the extent to which the results of the study are accurate. Findings of the study are, thus, presented based on actual results with utmost objectivity of the researcher. Further, to minimize any possible biasing effect and error, Software Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) was applied in analyzing findings of the questionnaires. The researcher also tried to assure the validity of the research instruments in close consultation, comments and recommendations of the advisor. Reliability refers to the extent to which the same answers can be obtained using the same instruments more than one time. According to Wilson (2010) reliability issues are most of the time closely associated with subjectivity and once a researcher adopts a subjective approach towards the study, then the level of reliability of the work is going to be compromised. In order to measure the consistency of the scores obtained and how consistent they were for each individual from one set to another, this study used Cronbach´s Alpha (a measure of the internal consistency of the questionnaire items) using data from all the respondents.

Internal Consistency - this approach to reliability uses only one administration of an instrument or test to assess consistency or homogeneity among the items. Moreover, reliable measuring instrument does contribute for validity. Finally, reliability of the questionnaire has been tested by using Cronbach´s Alpha. Therefore, as specified on table below, the SPSS result shows that the questionnaires reliability for each variable is 0.795, 0.580, 0.882, 0.810, 0.914 and 0.826 Cronbach´s Alpha. Coefficient alpha ranges in value from 0, meaning no consistency, to 1, meaning complete consistency. Therefore, one can say that very good reliability range from 0.80 and 0.95, good reliability range from 0.70 and 0.80, Fair reliability range from 0.60 and 0.70 and Poor reliability range from below 0.6.The result depicts in the below table the total Cronbach´s Alpha test is 0.897. Hence, this result proved that the study has a very good reliability.

Table 1: Reliability of variables depending on Cromboch’s alpha

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Source: Own Survey, 2019

4. Data Analysis and Interpretation

This part of the paper presented and analyzed the data collected to seek appropriate answer for the questions raised to respondents to find out the Balanced Scorecard implementation and its challenges in ERC. To that end, data collected from primary sources through interview of 11(Eleven) individuals. Of the total interviewed staff, 6(54.5%) were Management members and 5(45.5%) were non-management members. Questionnaires were distributed to a sample of 81 from a target population of 270. Out of the distributed questionnaires 79 (97.5%) were collected back and analyzed using SPSS version 24. In addition, secondary sources collected from the ERC’s five year strategic plan (2015-2020) and other BSC related documents were also used to compliment the information found through the questionnaire. The results obtained and the analysis of the responses is presented below.

4.1 Respondents Demographic Information

This section summarizes the sex, age, educational level, respondents’ current positions in the organization, years of experience on the current job and their total years of experience in the organization. The purpose of this demographic analysis is to know the male and female proportion, age distribution, level of education, respondents’ current position and their experience in ERC. It is indicated in the following tables and figures.

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Figure 3: Sex Proportions of the Respondents

Source: Own Primary Survey, 2019

As shown in the above figure 3, out of 79 total respondent, 59 (74.7%) of respondents are male and 20 (25.3%) of respondents are female. Hence, majority of the respondent are male. This shows that in Ethiopian Railways Corporation male proportion is higher than female.

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Figure 4: Age Proportion of the Respondents

Source: Own Primary Survey, 2019

As indicated the above figure 4, 18 (22.8%) of the respondents are grouped under the age of 20-30 years, 45 (57%) of the respondents are under category of 31-40 years, 11 (13.9%) of the respondents are 41-50 years and the remaining 5 (6.3%) is categorized above the age group of 51. From the table majority of the respondents’ age category belongs to in range of 31–40.

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Figure 5: Education Level of the respondent

Source: Own Primary Survey, 2019

The above figure indicates that 45(57.0%) of respondents have Master´s degree (Post graduate), 32(40.5%) have BA/BSC degree (Under graduate) and 2(2.5%) have Diploma/TVET. This implies that 97.5% of the participants in the survey have already achieved first degree and above. Hence, respondents are well-educated and are believed to know about the study area and to give valuable or reliable responses.

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Figure 6: Current position of the respondent in the organization

Source: Own Primary Survey, 2019

Figure 6 above indicates that 34(43.0%) of the respondents are Experts, 21(26.6%) of respondents are Team leaders, 6 (7.6%) of the respondents are Section managers, 14 (17.7%) of the respondents are Directors (Department Heads) and the remaining 4 (5.1%) of the respondents are Other Position holders. From this result it is possible to deduce that majority of the respondents are Experts and Team leaders. Therefore, it is possible to say that the main implementers of BSC are well represented.

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Figure 7: Respondents Years of Experience in the Corporation

Source: Own Primary Survey, 2019

Regarding their work experience in the Corporation, as the survey result indicates that 20 (25.3%) of respondents have served the Corporation between 1-3 years, 28 (35.4 %) have served between 4-6 years, 22(27.8%) of respondents have served 7-10 years and 9(11.4%) of respondents have served above 10 years. This indicates that, majority of the respondents have served between 4-6 years, and they are expected to have taken part in the building and implementation of the Corporation’s BSC reform initiative.

4.2 Analysis of the Variables

To make ease of presentation and analysis of the information, the data obtained from respondents is grouped in to six inter related thematic areas. All the questions under the six thematic areas has been analyzed and interpreted accordingly.

Table 2: Balanced Scorecard (BSC) initiative

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Source: Own Survey, 2019

As indicated above concerning BSC based strategic plan preparation, 27(34.2%) of the respondents disagreed and strongly disagreed, 27(34.2%) of respondents remained neutral and 25(31.6%) of the respondents agreed and strongly agreed that the BSC based plan was prepared. This means that the Corporation`s strategic plan was not understood by the respondents by what strategic planning frame work it is prepared. This implies that the strategic plan preparation was not well communicated to all stake holders. Regarding the prioritization of the BSC initiatives, 37(46.9%) of the respondents disagreed and strongly disagreed, 24(30.4%) respondents partially agreed, whereas 17(21.6%) agreed and strongly agreed. This implies that executives of the Corporation didn’t take the implementation process as a priority. Concerning resource allocation for the proper implementation of the BSC initiative, 47(59.5%) of respondents disagreed and strongly disagreed, 24(30.4%) respondents undecided and remaining 8(10.1%) of respondents agreed and strongly agreed. From this it is possible to deduce that enough resources were not allocated to design and implement Corporate Balanced Scorecard. With regard to required data availed and analyzed for the preparation, majority of the respondents 42(53.2%) disagreed and strongly disagreed, 27(34.2%) of the respondents were undecided while 8(10.1%) of respondents agreed and strongly agreed that relevant document and information were not analyzed adequately for BSC based strategic plan preparation. This means that enough internal and external environmental scanning was not carried out to prepare the strategic plan.

As depicted above regarding the adequacy of employee discussion on strategic plan, 46(58.3%) disagreed and strongly disagreed, 23(29.1%) of respondents undecided and only 8(10.2%) of respondents agreed and strongly agreed. As a result the participation of employee in BSC development and implementation process was very limited.

Table 3: Employees’ awareness level on BSC strategy

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Source: Own Survey, 2019

As indicated in table 3 above, 42(53.2%) of respondents agree and strongly agree regarding awareness of the Corporation´s vision, mission and strategy, 24(30.4%) of respondents undecided (agree in part) and 13(16.5%) of respondents disagree and strongly disagree. This indicates that majority of the employees were aware of the Corporation´s vision and mission. This might be because of the fact that the Corporation’s mission and vision is fixed on notice board where employees can see frequently.

As depicted above with regard to training on BSC, more than half of the respondents 41(51.9%) disagree and strongly disagree, 19(24.1%) partially agree whereas 16(20.3%) agreed and strongly agreed. These indicate that continuous and refreshment training on concepts of BSC was not properly administered. This may hinder the implementation of the system.

Table 4: Current status of BSC Implementation in ERC

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Source: Own Survey, 2019

As indicated in the above table (Table 9) concerning the Progress of BSC implementation, 56(70.9%) of the respondent disagreed and strongly disagreed, 14(17.7%) partially agree and 9(11.4%) of respondents agreed and strongly agreed on the progress of balanced score card. This indicates that majority of respondents were not satisfied on the progress of BSC implementation. Regarding providing BSC status information timely, 49(62%) of the respondent disagreed and strongly disagreed, 20(25.3%) undecided and 6(7.6%) agreed respectively. The response indicated that, the Corporation lacks in availing BSC status information on timely basis and this is one of the reasons which affect the implementation of BSC.

As noted from the table above with regard to providing regular support and feedback, 54(68.4%) the respondents disagreed or strongly disagreed, 17(21.5%) remained neutral and the remaining 8(10.1%) agreed or strongly agreed on the Corporation´s management effort to coach and provide staff with regular feedback. This indicates that weak follow up and feedback system as well as management effort to bridge any knowledge gap was very low. Concerning motivating employees toward BSC implementation, 57(72.2%) of respondents disagreed or strongly disagreed, 16(20.3%) remained neutral and only 5(6.3%) agreed. This implies most of the respondents confirmed that ERC management failed to motivate the employees for successful BSC implementation. With regard to performance Evaluation in ERC, 43(54.4 %) of respondents disagreed or strongly disagreed, 17(21.5%) had doubts (undecided) and the remaining 16(20.3%) agreed. So that majority of respondents replied that evaluation is not based on performance. As depicted in the table above, alignment of individual, team and process activities with the Corporation´s strategy, 34(43%) disagreed or strongly disagreed, 31(39.2%) remained neutral, and 13(16.5%) of them agreed or strongly agreed. This means, the Corporation´s effort to align individual, team and work unit activities to the corporate strategy is poor. With regard to maintaining balanced view of perspectives, 36(45.6%) disagreed or strongly disagreed, 34(43.0%) of the respondents had reservation (neutral) and 8(10.2%) agreed or strongly agreed in terms of maintaining balanced view of perspectives in the Corporation revealed that the awareness level of management of ERC in maintaining long term and short term as well as tangible and intangible balances is poor. Regarding level of commitment of ERC´s leadership, 48(60.8%) disagreed or strongly disagreed, 25(31.6%) remained neutral (agree in part), and 6(7.6%) agreed or strongly agreed. From this, it can be concluded that the involvement and commitment of ERC´s leadership in implementing the BSC is very low and serious problem of commitment among leaders. Lack of commitment among leaders can be one of the major constraints to implement BSC and failure of balanced scorecard initiative in the Corporation.

As depicted with the statement above, regards to proper designing of BSC, 52(65.8%) majority of respondents disagreed or strongly disagreed, 20(25.3 %) remained neutral(agree in part), and 6(7.6%) agreed or strongly agreed. This implies that the strategic plan was not properly designed. Generally the interview results also confirmed regarding the current status of BSC implementation in the Corporation, the BSC initiative was not functional as expected due to lack of management commitment which is the major challenge facing the organization related to BSC reform initiative implementation. In addition, lack of training, employee reluctance, poor organizational culture, lack of cascading and aligning BSC strategy with day to day activity, weak monitoring and evaluation system, active resistance from management (considering BSC as a threat if the BSC tool implemented properly they might lose their position).

Table 5: Operational efficiency in ERC

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Source: Own Survey, 2019

With regard to interfaces as shown the above table 44(55.7%) of respondents disagreed or strongly disagreed, 27(34.2%) neutral & 8(10.1%) remained agreed or strongly agreed. Thus, we can infer that the level of interface & coordination among work units in ERC is very poor. Concerning effective use of the IT system, majority of the respondents 65(82.3%) disagreed or strongly disagreed, 11(13.9%) remained neutral & 2(2.6%) agreed or strongly agreed. This implies that the BSC system is not IT supported. As depicted with the statement above, 56(70.9%) of the respondents disagreed or strongly disagreed with the provision of equipment and information provided to them, 12(15.2%) were in doubt and the remaining 11(14%) agreed or strongly agreed. This indicates that the Corporation has not availed the required equipment and information to do the job. Regarding the level of effectiveness of communication system of the Corporation, majority of respondents 51(64.6%) disagreed or strongly disagreed, 22(27.8%) remained neutral and only 5(6.3%) agreed. This shows that the level of commitment of ERC‘s leadership in informing and communicating employees on a regular basis was very low, and this contributed for weak understanding of the BSC concept and knowledge which as a result impeded successful implementation of the system.

As depicted on the table above, majority of the respondents 56(70.9%) disagreed or strongly disagreed, 15(19.0%) partially agree and 6(7.6%) agreed or strongly agreed on availability of proper check & balance system in the Corporation. This implies proper check and balance system is not in place.

Table 6: Perception of employees toward BSC implementation in ERC

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Source: Own Survey, 2019

Regarding commitment of employees, about 34(43%) of respondents disagreed and strongly disagreed about employees commitment toward balanced score card implementation, 30(38.0%) remained neutral and 15(19%) of the respondents agree and strongly agree respectively regarding the commitment of employees. This indicates reduced effort of employees which arises from poor engagement in BSC system design and implementation process. Concerning employee’s perception towards target achievement, about 30(38%) disagreed and strongly disagreed on employees’ perception towards target achievement, 30(38%) neutral and 19(24.1%) of the respondents agreed and strongly agreed respectively about positive perception employees toward target achievement. This implied that unless employees perceive positively it is hard to achieve Objectives, to gain benefit from successful implementation of balanced score card. BSC implementation requires readiness in terms of mentality, skill, competence and resource linked with strategy. But, significant number of respondents replied that there is lack of preparation in terms of skill and attitude. Furthermore, lack of commitment adversely affects the effectiveness of BSC implementation. The attitude of the respondents on the statement that team work became distinguishing feature of ERC reveals that more than half of respondents 40(50.6%) disagreed and strongly disagreed, 23(29.1%) had doubt (agree in part), 14(17.7%) agreed and strongly agreed. This shows that the level of teamwork and integration in ERC is low. With regard to motivating and participatory culture, majority of the respondents 56(70.9%) disagreed or strongly disagreed on the statement that there was motivating and participatory culture in the Corporation, 14(17.7%) remained neutral and 9(11.4%) agreed and strongly agreed. This implies that participatory and motivating culture in ERC was very low and this negatively affected the implementation process of BSC in the Corporation. As depicted in the table above, regarding the benefits of BSC implementation the respondents opinions/feelings, 20(25.3%) of the respondents had disagreed or strongly disagreed on usefulness of BSC for ERC, while 27(34.2%) of them believed that the implementation of BSC was somewhat useful (agree in part), 30(38%) agreed or strongly agreed. From this opinion we can deduce that implementing BSC in ERC is helpful in executing its strategic objectives and this imply Corporation have prospects to achieve significant change. Concerning linking BSC strategy with daily activities, 39(49.4%) of the respondents had disagreed and strongly disagreed, 25(31.6%) partially agree whereas 14(17.7%) of the respondents made their agreement (agree and strongly agree). This indicated that organizational strategy was not properly cascaded and linked with daily activities. Concerning BSC support to achieve work unit objectives, 33(41.8%) of the respondents had disagreed and strongly disagreed, 24(30.4%) of respondents rated undecided whereas 22 (27.9%) of the respondents made their agreement; this implies support provided to work unit to achieve BSC implementation objectives was low. With regard to that BSC equipped employee with accountability, 28(35.5%) of respondents disagreed and strongly disagreed, 26(32.9%) respondents were partially agreed while 23(29.1%) agree and strongly agree; the study result indicates that since the balanced scorecard system in ERC was not well cascaded and communicated, the tool was unable to address accountability. As indicated in table above with regard to that BSC encourages learning and continuous improvement, 22(27.8%) respondents disagreed and strongly disagreed, 24(30.4%) of the respondents partially agree and 32(40.5%) of respondents agreed and strongly agreed as indicated in table above. This implies BSC encourages learning and continuous improvement if properly implemented. Concerning to question if BSC has increased employees’ understanding of strategies, 24(30.3%) of the respondents disagreed and strongly disagreed, while 31(39.2%) of respondent’s undecided and 23(29.1%) of respondent agreed and strongly agreed. This implies BSC has increased employees’ understanding of strategies moderately. As depicted in the table above regards to the relevance of BSC to the Corporation 12(15.2%) of the respondents disagreed or strongly disagreed, 23(29.1%) of respondents remained neutral and more than half of respondents 43(54.4%) agreed and strongly agreed. This indicates that the employees accepted BSC as relevant reform tool and understand the benefits of implementing the Balanced Scorecard. So the Corporation can use this as a better opportunity to implement BSC system.

Table 7: Challenges of BSC implementation in ERC

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Source: Own Survey, 2019

As can be seen from table 7 above, level enhanced commitment of Management which is very crucial for any reform to be successful. Majority of respondents 49(62%) agreed and strongly agreed with that there is lack of management commitment regards to BSC implementation, 17(21.5%) respondents remained neutral and 12(15.2%) disagreed and strongly disagreed. As the result implies the major challenges were faced during the implementation of BSC as well as failure to maintain the system at ERC. Above all, weak or lack of commitment from the leadership is a root cause for other factors (variables) of BSC initiative failure in ERC. With regard to work system, majority of respondents 55(69.6%) agreed and strongly agreed Poor work system & culture backed by bureaucratic & delayed decision-making in ERC, whereas 17(21.5%) respondent’s partially agree and remaining 7(8.8%) disagreed and strongly disagreed. This showed that there is poor work system & culture i.e. lack of reform mentality contributed for weaknesses (challenges) in the implementation process of BSC in the Corporation. As indicated in the above table, lack of empowerment and motivation, 53(67%) of respondents agreed and strongly agreed with lack of empowerment and motivation in Corporation, 16(20.3%) respondents remained neutral and 8(10.1%) disagreed and strongly disagreed. This implies that empowerment and motivating culture in ERC was poor as a result resistant and incapability in the implementation process of BSC in the Corporation. Regards to skill, knowledge and ethical gaps, 30(38%) of respondents agreed and strongly agreed with regard to skill, knowledge and ethical gaps in Corporation, 21(26.6 %) respondent’s undecided and 27(34.2%) disagreed and strongly disagreed. This indicates skill, knowledge and ethical gaps were also critical challenges encountered during the implementation process of BSC in the Corporation. Concerning lack of information on BSC implementation, 29(36.7%) of the respondents showed their agreement (agrees or strongly agree) on the problem of insufficient information, 34(43%) respondents were partially agreed whereas 15(19%) disagreed and strongly disagreed. This indicates that insufficient information was provided on BSC implementation. In order to check lack of consensus on objectives, the data in table above showed that 31(39.2%) of respondents rated as agree and strongly agree, 26(32.9%) of the respondents rated as moderate (agree in part) whereas 19(24.1%) disagreed and strongly disagreed. Data obtained showed that inability to reach consensus on objectives in the Corporation, because of this it was challenging to cascade objectives and measures.

Moreover, the interview conducted with a total of eleven (11) managers and non managers from selected departments of the Corporation. In the effort to collect information with regard to the implementation of the balanced scorecard, the selected staffs were interviewed about the overall process they went through, the challenges they have faced and the current status of ERC in implementing BSC. Accordingly, the responses from the interview were analyzed in the following manner. Interviewees pointed out that the reasons for the Corporation to implement BSC are: because of government policy and direction, to plan strategically and measure organizational performance, traditional models have limitations. Therefore the modern tool found to be the BSC System. From the interview findings it can be concluded that BSC implementation in ERC was not owned and accepted practically by management members. The results of the study goes in line with that of Behdad and Mohammad (2014) who stated that on existing challenges of BSC implementation, insufficient information system to support BSC, lack of top management support and dedication, organizational politics and the fact that BSC implementation is time-consuming were the major challenges encountered in implementing the BSC. Pujas (2010), summarized challenges of BSC implementation as: limited understanding of BSC, lack of executive sponsorship, lack of BSC education and training, inadequate IT support, inadequate project team, organizational participation, inadequate key performance indicators (KPIs) and lack of communication. Again the informants confirmed that, ERC made some efforts to solve the above listed challenges, such as: Management members discussed on BSC improvement, integrated committee established to monitor for successful improvement and some advocacy works has been done.

5. Conclusion & Recommendation

The study was conducted to assess Balanced Scorecard implementation and its challenges in Ethiopian Railways Corporation. While conducting the study, a literature review of the BSC, its concepts and implementation methods were reviewed. Previous studies were also used to identify the most important challenges to the successful implementation of BSC. Data was collected from both secondary and primary sources using questionnaire, interview and document review. The collected data was analyzed using descriptive approach by bar graphs, pie charts and tables. Based on the analysis, interpretation and summary of the findings, The study confirmed that somewhat common understanding maintained by the Corporation’s employees about the vision and strategic objectives. This can be considered as a good opportunity in smoothly undertaking the implementation process of BSC initiative in ERC. Employee’s positive perception on BSC reform tool has relevance or is a good opportunity for future implementation of the system. Most of the respondents’ believed that, BSC encourages learning and continuous improvement in ERC positively. From this opinion it can be deduce that implementing BSC in ERC can be helpful in executing its strategies. The Corporation BSC based strategic plan was not properly designed and well communicated, which contributed for poor implementation of balanced scorecard initiative in ERC. As per the study findings, lack of continuous training about the BSC concepts has become serious challenge which reduced the effort and commitment of employees.The study evidence revealed majority of the respondents were not satisfied on the status of BSC implementation, and that majority of them believed it didn’t meet its targets due to lack of leadership commitment in realizing BSC implementation, management failure to motivate the employees, biased evaluation and lack of aligning BSC strategy with daily activities. The existing communication system in ERC is poor as a result it does not facilitate interactive way of communication, BSC implementation status information and required resources were not availed timely, interface & coordination among work units was weak. Furthermore, the existing IT not effectively supports BSC implementation and all these contributed in causing operational inefficiency in ERC. Generally, as per the study result majority of respondents confirmed existence of serious challenges of BSC reform initiative implementation in the Corporation. From the finding, major cause of challenges derived from lack of leadership commitment and lack of necessary training which enhancing the old age (traditional) working conditions along with lack of reform mentality lead to BSC reform initiative failure in ERC.

Based on the major findings of the study, the following recommendations are drawn to enhance the Ethiopian Railways Corporation effectiveness in the implementation of BSC. To be effective, ERC should make the implementation of BSC systematize as a result each and every individual has a cascaded plan based on corporate strategy. Strengthening reform team and change agent among the corporation community who can speed up the whole reform initiatives. The Corporation should sustain and use the employee’s positive perception on BSC reform tool as a good opportunity for improvement in performance. The management should also play a catalyst role in coordinating and motivating employees with a great deal of concern, dedication and sense of ownership to the success of the BSC implementation in the Corporation. The Corporation should strength the commitment of management by improving the awareness level of leadership in building positive attitude through education and training. Adequate and continuous training should be provided to all employees to enable them to enhance their skill on how to design and implement BSC. The leadership should avail required resources timely and also effectively communicate employees on a regular basis. To maintain balanced scorecard implementation with relevant information, the Corporation should strength IT support to automate all possible working systems and documentation which may enable to improve operational efficiency. ERC’s management should use the BSC framework to align individual, team and process level accomplishments to the reward system. This enables the Corporation to establish ground for competition and best performance through motivation and recognition. The leadership of the Corporation should give prior emphasis to the successful execution of the BSC through provision of continuous guidance (direction), strict evaluation and taking timely corrective action for improvement. To tackle the challenges encountered in the implementation process of BSC, the leadership of the Corporation should initiate and scan progress level of Balanced Scorecard reform initiative and learn lessons of success in implementing same through creating cooperation and experience sharing. Clear and structured responsibility and accountability should, thus, be put in place for weak performance contrary to the requirements of BSC and the Corporation´s BSC implementation manual.

Due to the fact that this research has been conducted in only in Ethiopian Railways Corporation, the findings cannot be applicable to any other area. Therefore, further study is recommended using larger sample size including other crucial variables. This will in turn introduce results from which generalized conclusions can be forwarded.


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Assessment of Balanced Scorecard Implementation and its Challenges. The Case of Ethiopian Railways Corporation
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Teshome Abdeta (Author)Messele Kumilachew (Author), 2019, Assessment of Balanced Scorecard Implementation and its Challenges. The Case of Ethiopian Railways Corporation, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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