Method for performance measurement of car companies from a stability-value leverage perspective: The balancing act between investment in R&D, supply chain configuration and value creation

Wouter Beelaerts van Blokland*, Sebastiaan van de Koppel, Gabriel Lodewijks, Wouter Breen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: Today, most of the car manufacturers world-wide have embraced the principles of lean manufacturing on strategic and operational level. On strategic level car companies like Toyota (Womack et al., 1990) shifted 63 per cent of the value of the car towards the first, second and third tier suppliers for the co-production and co-development of cars as an effect of lean implementation. However, lean implementation was also followed by for instance Ford and GM in the USA, the latter company faced a sudden disruption in 2009 due to the break-out of the financial crisis in 2008, while Ford survived. Could this be foreseen? The exclusive use of (classic) financial performance indicators may give a false image of a company’s current and future performance. There is a need for a model to identify “the stars and the laggards’ regarding car companies by taking into account non-financial and intangible dimensions as advocated by Neely et al. (2003) regarding the third generation of business performance measurement systems. The purpose of this paper is therefor to propose a method to measure and benchmark car company performance which includes the non-financial R&D dimension as well as supply chain, value creating and employee dimensions. These dimensions are present in the value leverage model (van Blokland et al., 2012a, 2012b) which can serve as a basis for this method. The aim is to contribute to the third generation business performance measurement systems by further development of the value leverage model towards a maturity model for benchmarking car company performance. The proposed method can provide a big picture and give insight regarding company performance and direction of the performance. Design/methodology/approach: Value leverage can be measured by a correlation analysis regarding three dimensions, namely, supply chain, R&D and value creation, all relative to the employee or capita which results in the average value leverage (AVL) factor. This AVL factor can be used to compose a combined relative and absolute ranking. The score regarding the AVL results in a relative ranking expressing the level of stability regarding the car companies value chain and system. For the absolute ranking the car companies receive per variable parameter a score according to their absolute performance relative to the other car companies. The relative and absolute ranking are presented on the vertical and horizontal axes forming a matrix. The matrix is the basis for the stability-value leverage maturity model for measuring and benchmarking company performance. With the proposed method, the following main research question can be answered: “How can company performance be measured and benchmarked from a stability-value leverage perspective?”. Findings: With the proposed method, stability-value leverage performance can be measured. The relative ranking on the vertical axis and the absolute ranking form together a matrix which is presented by a scatterplot. A matrix with four maturity levels emerged from the analysis by introducing the average score of all the car companies together in the data set crossing the matrix vertical and horizontal. The four levels are as follows: Level I, low stability – low value leverage; Level II, low stability – high value leverage; Level III, high stability – low value leverage; and Level IV, high stability – high value leverage. Stability-value leverage performance of car companies can be measured over time which makes it possible to observe to which direction the car company migrates for instance from Level I to Level III, before and after the financial crises in 2008. The car companies BMW, Daimler, Audi, Ford and Honda are the best performing companies in stability-value leverage over the period 2000-2014, as they are situated at Level IV. With the findings, the main research question can be answered. The value leverage indicators can be used for measuring and benchmarking company performance regarding four maturity levels of stability and value leverage. The direction of performance can be observed as well. Research/limitations/implications: This research is limited to the car industry. Further research is devised to test the indicators for instance on the truck manufacturing industry. Further research towards new variables is part of the ongoing research. Practical/implications: With the value leverage maturity model, it is possible to inform stakeholders about stability, value leverage and value creation capability of car companies. Weak performing companies can be identified in an early stage with this method to anticipate for instance on possible discontinuation of a car company effecting in merger an acquisition processes. Social/implications: With the method stakeholders such as employees, users of cars and investors can be informed about how and why car companies perform in an unstable or stable manner. Originality/value: This research towards ranking and classification of car companies aligns with theories regarding lean manufacturing and maturity models, as these models are used to compare companies on their level of perfection or excellence.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)411-434
JournalInternational Journal of Lean Six Sigma
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Car industry
  • Lean
  • Leverage
  • Maturity model


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