Purpose ‐ The purpose of the paper is to examine how organisational experimenting with total quality management (TQM) and the balanced scorecard affects the bundling of design characteristics associated with these innovations in a Swedish central government agency. Design/methodology/approach ‐ The paper adopts an exploratory, longitudinal case study approach which builds on and extends the management fad and fashion literature. Findings ‐ While both innovations encountered considerable implementation problems, they continued to exercise a lingering influence on the "new" performance management system emerging in the focal organisation. The original adoption of the two innovations can be explained from a traditional management fashion perspective. However, the subsequent development of performance management features a more complex mix of explanatory factors and highlights how the bundling phenomenon is entangled with managerial learning processes. This resulted in a less linear trajectory of change than that predicted by prior research on the notion of bundling. Research implications ‐ The paper contributes to the literature on management fads and fashions by refining its conception of the role of managers of adopting organisations and organisational adoption, implementation and rejection of innovations. Originality/value ‐ The paper constitutes a first attempt to examine in greater detail how organisational experimenting with contemporary management control innovations affects the process of bundling in an individual organisation.