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Productivity & performance management


This research group is interested in developing an understanding about the cluster of issues relating to Productivity and performance management in all types of organisations, sectors, contexts and countries.

Research focus

Policymakers and business organisations are continually concerned about productivity, often for different reasons. At a national level the UK Government is concerned about the apparently large number of low-productivity firms, in terms of national competitiveness and the sustainability of growth potential of the economy, as well as holding the belief that increases in productivity will herald a return to an increase in living standards via a growth in wages. Conversely, businesses want to increase productivity to drive profitability or to maintain margin in periods of low growth and price competition. 

However these aspirations need to be seen in the context of the changing environment, particularly with respect to the following interrelated factors:

  • The drive towards digitalisation,
  • The convergence of products and services and an increase in mass customisation
  • The emergence and divergence of business models in terms of how value is created
  • The difficulties in monetising and distributing the revenue from this
  • The disintermediation and reconfiguration of supply chains
  • The volume of [big] data from which to potentially measure productivity
  • The use and deployment of AI

These inform some of the critical research questions for the group, including: 

  • What will firms actually use productivity gains for?
  • What are the firm and social impacts of improving productivity?
  • How should the value created be measured?
  • How should Productivity be measured across and within a business’ activity?
  • How can firms better relate performance management to Productivity?
  • How can firms use AI to measure and inform productivity and performance improvement?
  • How best should firms use AI to improve both value and cost in productivity? 
  • How should we consider supply chain productivity?

We are interested in exploring both the nature of productivity and how it could be measured, and the methods, enablers and barriers practitioners and organisations face in attempting to improve productivity. In conjunction with this we are involved in investigating how performance management of both people and processes are entwined with each other, and how these are related to productivity. Finally we are interested in how the potentially interdependent and recursive relationship between the progression of the productivity agenda and the focus on performance impacts on wellbeing and motivation of all people involved in and with organisations.

The research group has a dual emphasis on knowledge generation in these areas and on project work and applied activity, working with businesses to apply it and transfer this to impact businesses’ productivity. At the same time we are bridging the divide between theory and practice by conducting research into the efficiency of these and other interventions, in order to inform and develop policy for the region and beyond.

The research group is interested in revealing causal mechanisms by working in these research areas, so that both pure and intervention-based research can illuminate and stimulate policy discussion and formation.

Plus other members of the School and related doctoral research students.

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