In today's highly competitive, rapidly changing global economy organisations have been focused to consider and implement a wider variety of innovative management philosophies and techniques. One such technique is benchmarking which has been attracting considerable attention for it's effectiveness (Sisson et al., 2003; Rohlfer, 2004; Anderson and McAdam, 2004; Anderson and McAdam, 2004; Rohlfer, 2004; Yasin, 2002). Benchmarking is a relatively new concept and practice "through which organisations continually review the outputs from their operations and identify ways to make changes in their processes so that better outputs result" (Holloway et al., 1998: 2). Benchmarking is identified as one of an ever-growing number of management practices aimed at improving performance (Fong et al., 1998; Cassell et al., 2001; Francis et al., 2002).
As Zairi stated that, "Benchmarking has truly revolutionized the culture of businesses in the West and the way with which it is organized, managed and run. This is very evident when one looks at the number of conferences being organized, the formation of clubs, associations and the launch of journals and magazines specially devoted to the subject of benchmarking" (Zairi, 1996, cited in Jarrar and Zairi, 2001: 907).
Benchmarking has been gaining attention among managers as a means of strengthening a company's ability to compete and achieve superior performance. It has rapidly gained acceptance world-wide as a tool of continuous improvement. As Francis et al. (2002: 239) stated that "benchmarking has become an increasingly important performance management tool that can be used to enable managers to both monitor and improve aspects of their own operational performance by reference to, and learning from, other organisations"". Therefore, benchmarking activities in different organisations deserve attention and critique (Willmott, 1993; Steingard and Fitzgibbons, 1993; Cox et al., 1997). However, there are many organisations in the USA and Europe that promote the use of benchmarking, such as The International Benchmarking Clearing House or The European Network for Advanced Performance System (ENAPS), which provide benchmarking databases and assistance in identifying partners (Carpinetti and De Melo, 2002). Also there are a variety of studies undertaken in the UK (e.g. Ogden and Wilson, 2000; Jones, 2002; Bovaird, 2000; McAdam and O'Neill, 2002; Cassell et al., 2001; Francis et al., 2002), USA (e.g. Min et al., 1997; Gruca and Wakefield, 2002; Siguaw and Enz, 1999; Kumar and Chandra, 2001), Korea (e.g. Min et al., 2002), Singapore (e.g. Brah et al., 2002), Hungary (e.g. Tolosi and Lajtha, 2000; Pataki et al., 1998), Australia (e.g. Gilmour, 1999; Ralston et al., 2001; Godfrey and Godfrey, 1999), Greece (e.g. Papalexandris and Nikandrou, 2000), Brazil (e.g. Carponetti and De Melo, 2002), and Turkey (e.g. Ulusoy and Ikiz, 2001) to explore different aspects of benchmarking. Despite the number of publications and the amount of research into benchmarking, little empirical research has been carried out in the Arab World and more specifically Egypt. There is very little known about benchmarking activities, benefits, and drawbacks in Egypt. Therefore, the focus of the present study was to examine the state of benchmarking in Egypt. In order to investigate the state of benchmarking in Egypt, data will be provided through current practices of benchmarking, benefits of benchmarking, driving forces of initiating benchmarking and the various problems associated with benchmarking in benchmarking and non-benchmarking organizations.
Research Methodology and Organizational Profile
This study is exploratory in nature and seeks to collect data about the state of benchmarking in Egypt. In deciding on the most suitable method for collecting the required data, it is important to note that based on the literature review it was clear that the majority of research about benchmarking has been conducted via quantitative approaches, predominantly through postal questionnaires (Vermeulen, 2003; Kumar and Chandra, 2001; Lee et al. …