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The influence of plants on productivity: A critical assessment of research findings and test methods

Iris Bakker (Department of Real Estate and Housing and Center for People and Buildings, Faculty of Architecture, Delft University of Technology, Delft, The Netherlands)
Theo van der Voordt (Department of Real Estate and Housing and Center for People and Buildings, Faculty of Architecture, Delft University of Technology, Delft, The Netherlands)

Facilities

ISSN: 0263-2772

Article publication date: 6 July 2010

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to review available research into the impact of plants on people and labour productivity in order to test a number of hypotheses and the reliability and validity of “evidence based” statements.

Design/methodology/approach

An extended literature review was conducted of research concerning the potential impacts of plants on people and labour productivity. In order to be able to compare the findings of different researchers, an analysis was made of similarities and dissimilarities with regard to the research context, starting‐points and test methods.

Findings

The paper identifies a lack of precise descriptions of the research design and poor comparability between different research with regard to the characteristics of the plant, test persons, test procedures, surrounding conditions and contents of the reports. Although it can be concluded that plants can have a positive impact on the productivity of human beings, it is remarkable that in research reports and research papers the properties of the plant itself are only mentioned by exception. The condition of the plant – whether it is healthy or not – is not described at all.

Research limitations/implications

Only 17 studies and underlying papers were investigated and no new research was conducted with the proposed improvements.

Practical implications

The findings can be used by managers to legitimate investments in plants and by researchers to improve (the comparability of) research into plants.

Originality/value

In addition to the review of the impact of plants on different types of productivity a vision is presented about the impact of the vitality of plants. Furthermore recommendations are given on how to cope with the methodological problem of poor comparability of research.

Keywords

Citation

Bakker, I. and van der Voordt, T. (2010), "The influence of plants on productivity: A critical assessment of research findings and test methods", Facilities, Vol. 28 No. 9/10, pp. 416-439. https://doi.org/10.1108/02632771011057170

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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