To read this content please select one of the options below:

Demystifying productivity and performance

Stefan Tangen (Department of Production Engineering, The Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, Sweden)

International Journal of Productivity and Performance Management

ISSN: 1741-0401

Article publication date: 1 January 2005




Examines the ways in which the concepts of “productivity” and “performance” are dealt with in the literature, demonstrating that terms used within these fields are often vaguely defined and poorly understood.


Reviews related performance literature from the past 30 years (of both an academic and a practical nature).


Clarifies the meaning of five terms (productivity, performance, profitability, efficiency, effectiveness) and shows how they are inter‐related.

Research limitations/implications

The creation of a common grammar is not an easy task; one must therefore still accept the fact that people will continue to interpret the terms described in this paper in slightly various ways.

Practical implications

Measurement and improvement regimes are often built without a clear understanding of what is being measured or improved. This can be regarded as simply a pragmatic approach to improvement, or a missed opportunity to fully understand and then optimise important factors relating to competitiveness and success.


The paper creates a terminology that reduces the existing confusion within the field. Certainly, within academia and industry, a shared vocabulary and grammar are helpful in ensuring rigorous and robust development of shared understanding.



Tangen, S. (2005), "Demystifying productivity and performance", International Journal of Productivity and Performance Management, Vol. 54 No. 1, pp. 34-46.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2005, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Related articles