Burgess, T. and Heap, J. (2015), "Editorial", International Journal of Productivity and Performance Management, Vol. 64 No. 5. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJPPM-04-2015-0057Download as .RIS
Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Article Type: Editorial From: International Journal of Productivity and Performance Management, Volume 64, Issue 5.
This issue of the journal contains seven papers; six standard academic papers and a reflective practice piece. The papers originate from across the globe, with contributions from India, Malaysia and Singapore, Thailand, and the UK. One distinct theme that is visible in this issue is performance management’s relationship with strategy; perhaps this shows a continuing evolution of the field to encompass more than operational matters. A second theme involves performance in supply chains, rather than just concentrating on the operations of individual manufacturing companies. Collectively, this issue’s papers once again demonstrate the multi-disciplinary interests of the performance management and productivity field.
Increasingly companies within developed economies, and elsewhere, are adopting project management as their managerial philosophy. This philosophy chimes with the growing emphasis on the need for change, and the increasing emphasis on knowledge and value-added activities that comprise companies’ operations. Various structured project methodologies focussed on technical aspects have been designed and used to help project managers deliver projects successfully; but these methodologies do not necessarily deliver high levels of project success. Some argue that this is because these methodologies focus on the technical aspects of what are increasingly complex, managerial endeavours. In this first paper, Cullen and Parker go beyond the idea of simply adopting a structured, technical project methodology. They seek to integrate such a methodology with a number of relevant, modern theories from the domain of strategic management; to form a unified model of project management. The authors apply their approach to examining the case of the implementation of London’s Heathrow Terminal 5 project. By applying their thinking to a Mega project, such as Heathrow Terminal 5, the authors hope, presumably, to highlight the salience of their ideas. However, projects more modest in size would, no doubt, benefit from their approach and thus justify the utility of their model for a wider group of project managers. Projects are notorious for their lack of success and, therefore, anything that could improve project performance is to be welcomed.
Achieving performance improvement in the public sector still continues to attract much attention. The introduction of private sector style arrangements between governments and their public sector agencies continues apace. In this next paper, Srimai investigates the situation in Thailand where the two parties enter into what are called Performance Agreements (PA). The agencies take on tasks specified by the government where they agree a target set of results that have to be publicly reported and audited. Other control mechanisms are applied by the government in the results-oriented management system. In Thailand different levels of government exist; the author reports on a qualitative study that looks at the provincial level by using a focus group and individual interviews with senior managers in provincial agencies. It is to be expected that Srimai finds, among other things, private sector approaches are used that are inappropriate for the public sector environment. Also the author surmises that the PA system generates a complex web of interacting organisations with objectives that often conflict. The control system does not operate very effectively; a particular problem is the lack of timely reporting. The authors provide us with an interesting case study that demonstrates some similarities with other environments but also some distinctiveness of the Thai situation.
Many identify strategic management as a key determinant of a company’s performance and, therefore, a good performance management system must link strongly to strategy and facilitate its successful implementation. Unfortunately strategic implementation projects, including those related to new performance management systems; seem, like many other types of projects, to not have a good success rate. In the third paper Yadav, Taticchi and Sushil illustrate how successful design and implementation of performance management systems links critically to strategy. They concentrate on a particular approach to developing and implementing strategy called the flexible strategy game-card approach (FSGC). The case the authors use to illustrate their argument is that of an Indian telecommunications company. Telecommunication companies are among today’s corporate giants and their performance is clearly of great importance to national economies; certainly that of India.
The topic of supply chain management continues to grow in popularity for both researchers and practitioners. Clearly how supply chains are managed to deliver good performance is a topic that is growing in importance. In the fourth paper, Gorane and Kant review the literature on empirical studies of supply chain practices (SCP) to provide a knowledge base for others to build on. One caveat they state in their results is that more research is needed on the relation between SCPs and organisational performance; it seems that often it is just assumed that a SCP will improve performance.
The ongoing impact of globalisation means that the supply chain activity of logistics has become highly competitive and attracts increasing attention. Part of this consideration involves assessment of the performance of logistics companies and of understanding the factors that can be changed to improve performance. In the next paper, Wong, Soh, Chong and Karia study Singaporean and Malaysian companies that operate through the increasingly important logistics hubs in Asia. They apply novel quantitative techniques to show that for the 77 logistics firms they study, smaller firms out-perform larger firms overall and on both efficiency and effectiveness dimensions. Clearly a result of this kind, that goes against the conventional argument of economies of scale, is worthy of further exploration. However, it is worth noting that even the small companies within their sample are quite sizeable.
In the sixth academic paper the authors tackle the important problem of which improvement initiative the manager should choose to put their resources into when faced with a number of competing performance improvement initiatives. Low, Kamaruddin and Abdul Azid use multi-criteria decision making and build a framework to aid in the process. They very much rely on a structured, quantitative approach of evaluating alternatives with statistical methods. The authors demonstrate their approach via a case study that focuses on an improvement initiative in the flow-line production environment. Therein may lay the limitations of this approach, i.e. its use in such a production environment. Other environments, such as batch and jobbing production, or service, may be less conducive to such a structured, quantitative approach. However, this is for others to explore.
In the final paper, Antony reflects on 20 years of practice as a researcher, consultant and practitioner in the field of Quality Management. He distils his knowledge in to Ten Commandments of quality. We commend them to you.
Thomas F. Burgess and John Heap