International Journal of Productivity and Performance Management

ISSN: 1741-0401

Article publication date: 4 November 2014



Heap, J. (2014), "News", International Journal of Productivity and Performance Management, Vol. 63 No. 8.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited


Article Type: News From: International Journal of Productivity and Performance Management, Volume 63, Issue 8

Canada – bad or good?

Recent figures coming out of Canada suggest that Canada's long trend of (comparatively) poor productivity might be reversing. Mark Carney, the former Governor of the Bank of Canada – now with the Bank of England – in 2010 described Canada's productivity as "abysmal". However, recent figures show growth in labour productivity and a reduction in working hours. Perhaps Canada is at last punching its weight.

Vietnam must do better

Vietnam's labour productivity is poor compared to that of many other countries in Asia-Pacific, and was among the region's lowest in 2013, according to the international Labour Organization (ILO).

There is a big gap in productivity between Vietnam and other ASEAN countries with medium income per capita, ILO said.

Last year, Vietnam's productivity was only one-fifth and two-fifths of Malaysia's and Thailand's, respectively.

It was ten times lower than that of South Korea, 11 times lower than Japan's, and 15 times lower than in Singapore, the study says.

Since 2008, Vietnam's average annual productivity growth has been only 3.3 per cent, much lower than the 5.2 per cent achieved from 2002 to 2007, ILO said.

Growing productivity

Researchers from Cardiff and Exeter Universities in the UK have concluded that enriching an office environment with plants can increase workplace satisfaction, self-reported levels of focus, and perceived air quality.

The lead researchers went on to claim that overall productivity increased by a startling 15 per cent when plants and photos of plants were introduced to an office space. The results of the plant productivity experiment have been published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology.

India needs more productive farms

Improving farm productivity is central to the Indian government's goal of achieving "faster, more inclusive and sustainable growth", the World Bank has said in a recent report "Accelerating agricultural productivity growth in india – issues and opportunities".

Agricultural growth did rebound after 2004-2005 but two negative trends emerged: concerns about the nature and sustainability of growth, the report observes, adding that the contribution of yields (productivity) has been limited while prices have been the main growth driver in recent years.

The report suggests that price-led growth without improvements in productivity is not sustainable.

Additionally, diversification in farm production is a key driver of growth as seen in other emerging economies such as China and Brazil, but such diversification in India is still limited.

Miners are worried

Ernst & Young's annual business risks facing mining and metals report reveals productivity, capital decisions, and social license to operate as the top three risks facing the sector this year.

"Productivity claimed the top spot on this year's mining risks list as boards and CEOs begin to realize that regaining lost productivity will be critical for long-term profitability", says Bruce Sprague, EY's Canadian Mining & Metals Leader. "Capital decisions and social license to operate challenges also continue to weigh heavily on the minds of mining and metals executives here and around the world".

America mourns harbour

James E. Harbour, a retired auto executive who created a publication that became a benchmark for measuring productivity in the industry, died earlier this year at the age of 86.

General Motors CEO Mary Barra issued a statement calling Harbour "a visionary when it came to manufacturing productivity".

"Jim's knowledge and passion for the manufacturing arena made the entire industry better, and by so doing, brought higher levels of product safety and quality to customers worldwide", Barra said.

Born in Manchester, NH, Harbour served in the US Navy in 1945-1948. He joined Ford in 1954 and Chrysler in 1957, retiring in 1980 to found Harbour and Associates.

The consulting company created the Harbour Report, which became a widely recognized scorecard of automakers' performance when US companies were slammed by blows from Japanese competitors.

He became a Paul Revere-type figure, alerting domestic automakers to efficiency and quality gains of their Japanese rivals.

Save us from technology

David Johnson believes we have a crisis of attention in the workplace that technology managers need to pay attention to.

The analyst with Forrester Research argues that technology managers, driven primarily by cost and security concerns, have been mostly oblivious to the impact of their hardware and software on the work flow of knowledge workers in their organizations. Instead, he says, they have to learn about industrial psychology, notably intrinsic motivation, and pick technology that helps rather than impedes employees in their daily work.

Even when individuals figure out ways to protect themselves against e-mail and phone interruptions, technology places other impediments in their way. Sometimes the technology is awkward or outdated, hard to use. Sometimes it requires excessive signing-in protocols or approvals before important data can be accessed. Sometimes, employees can be more effective using technology that's not approved for the workplace. It all adds up to frustration, as autonomy and flow are blocked.

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