A comparison of 26 High Performance Organization (HPO) studies

By drs. Erik Belt, RC – Rabobank

Introduction comparison High Performance Organization (HPO) studies

While studying to become a Register Controller at the Erasmus University of Rotterdam, I evaluated 26 studies of high performance organizations for a report. The goal of this evaluation was to identify ‘robust’ studies that I could use for my practical research. This document describes the results of that evaluation.

In today’s age of extreme competition and increasing demands, managers of modern organizations are expected to excel. The management of organizations is primarily interested in those factors that are important for achieving consistently good results. The studies examined as part of this evaluation focused on the decisive financial and non-financial parameters that allow an organization to perform better in the long term than fellow organizations. The studies were selected based on the following: (a) familiarity, i.e. the number of times the studies have been quoted in other publications and (b) their level of practicality, i.e. a certain amount of practical research must be included. The 26 studies chosen (see reference list) were then evaluated based on seven criteria. The four studies that scored highest were examined in more detail, after which a final selection was made of one of the studies.

The first evaluation

The set-up and execution of the various studies varied considerably. Most researchers made a selection based on financial analyses of organizations that perform well or excellently in a certain sector, and then compared them to competitors that did not perform as well. This comparison was then used to determine distinguishing characteristics. However, if the initial selection was not made carefully due to the use of incorrect information or the wrong criteria, the validity of the rest of the study is questionable. That is why I applied the following selection criteria:

  • Representative: Is the study representative? In other words, is the sampling used in the study sufficiently large?
  • Statistically sound: Are the final conclusions in the publication sufficiently substantiated by statistical analyses?
  • Control group: Were the findings tested with a relevant control group to determine whether the characteristics identified really did make the difference?
  • Period: Was the study period sufficiently long enough to drawn conclusions that are not affected by time?
  • Relevant: Is the study broad enough that the conclusions are relevant to ‘all’ organizations (profit, non-profit and government)?
  • Applicable: Are the findings applicable in practice? In other words, did they result in a set of decisive HPO characteristics? Is a diagnosis model available? And has an implementation method been described?
  • Universal: Can the findings be applied universally? In other words, does the study have a global set-up and was the control group internationally representative?

The 26 studies are compared below based on the criteria…

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