Burgess, T. and Heap, J. (2015), "Editorial", International Journal of Productivity and Performance Management, Vol. 64 No. 7. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJPPM-07-2015-0103Download as .RIS
Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Article Type: Editorial From: International Journal of Productivity and Performance Management, Volume 64, Issue 7.
In this issue we present five research papers. The five papers comprise two papers that report the results of empirical studies and three that concentrate on conceptual matters via literature reviews. Given the maturity of the productivity and performance management field it surprised your editors that we had such a high proportion of suitable literature review papers for this issue. However, what appears to be happening is that the philosophy of performance improvement is making itself felt in our research domain. All three of these papers adopt new, improved, systematic approaches that have recently come to the fore as a consequence of the transfer of the systematic review process from the medical field into that of management and business. Of course there are some words of caution to attach to any new approach – they should not be seen as an end in themselves but should be valued for their benefits. In this case the new approaches are held to give broader and more rigorous reviews than traditional approaches, i.e. they can improve the researcher’s performance. Let’s hope they fulfil that promise!
The first of our two empirical papers interleaves a number of research methods to construct a valuable study that sheds light on the connection between organisational capabilities and business performance. Dynamic capabilities, along with the resource-based view, seem to form a dominant paradigm in the management literature so it is particularly valuable to explore, as the authors do, the connection between capabilities and performance. In their paper Simon, Bartle, Stockport, Smith, Klobas and Sohal, a group mainly affiliated to Australian institutions, find that strategic capabilities tend to be linked to indicators of financial performance while dynamic capabilities are linked to non-financial indicators. The authors draw out some implications for managers; unsurprisingly one of the key messages is that they should invest time and effort in the right people.
Our second paper is the second of the two empirical studies that we announced above but, in contrast to the previous study’s reliance on a multiple-method approach, this study by Zakaria (Malaysia) uses a single research method, that of ethnography. Its ethnographic basis means that this paper stands out in comparison to much of the other work published in our field which tends to be survey-based. The paper paints a revealing picture of how performance measures interact with culture and behavioural change within an organisation. Maybe we all appreciate that performance measurement can affect behaviour, but perhaps we need more research like this study that looks at how the connection works within organisations.
The third paper is the first of the three that contain systematic approaches to literature review. A straightforward approach to performance measurement would suggest that we must define what it is that we hope to measure before we can measure it; in some ways such a Platonic approach underpins much of our research and practice. In this paper Jafari, from Sweden, sets out to try to put some substance on what he sees as, up-to-now, the fuzzily defined construct of logistics flexibility. A key component underpinning supply chain performance, logistics flexibility relates to dexterity in the process of moving goods from place to place. As we know, supply chains are crucially important in our global economy and so we ought to have a good grip on what we mean by logistics flexibility. In the author’s view we don’t have a good enough grasp and a systematic review of the literature is needed to give substance to this missing link. His forensic analysis of the literature is a good response to this perceived deficiency in the logistics flexibility literature.
The next paper also deals with supply chains. With the growing importance of supply chains, approaches to coordination and control have become important in delivering supply chain performance. Various methods have been put forward to develop collaboration between supply chain partners; one such method is collaborative planning, forecasting and replenishment (CPFR). This paper contains a systematic review of CPFR leading to a number of research propositions and to identifying research gaps. For the researcher and practitioner associated with CPFR, the Brazilian-based authors: Holllmann, Scavarda, and Thomé, have created a valuable resource.
The final paper is also authored by a team that is mainly based in Brazil. They recognise that the recent expansion of privatisation of public services has been accompanied by the need to measure the performance of the actors in the newly deregulated sectors. In this paper Ensslin, Ensslin, Matos, Dutra, and Ripoll-Feliu use a structured, systematised approach to review the literature on performance measurement in deregulated sectors. Their results are of value but, in one major area, disappointing for your editors: namely the dominant position the authors identify for data envelopment analysis (DEA) as a technique employed in the literature to measure performance. This dominance reflects what we see in the submissions to the IJPPM, namely that many articles rely on DEA. We would be interested in seeing a wider range of approaches to performance measurement being published in the IJPPM, and elsewhere.
Thomas F. Burgess and John Heap