Editorial

T. F. Burgess (Department of Business, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK)
John Heap (National Productivity Centre, Leeds, UK)

International Journal of Productivity and Performance Management

ISSN: 1741-0401

Publication date: 12 January 2015

Citation

Burgess, T.F. and Heap, J. (2015), "Editorial", International Journal of Productivity and Performance Management, Vol. 64 No. 1. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJPPM-11-2014-0176

Publisher

:

Emerald Group Publishing Limited


Editorial

Article Type: Editorial From: International Journal of Productivity and Performance Management, Volume 64, Issue 1.

Welcome to the first issue in the 64th volume of the journal. Once again, as your Editors, we aim to bring you diverse and insightful knowledge from the journal’s contributors; knowledge that we hope will increase understanding for our readership of academics and practitioners involved in productivity and performance. The seven papers in this issue are united in looking to meet this aim by investigating a diversity of topics. Topics span private vs public sector, empirical vs conceptual studies, case studies vs surveys, performance of teams vs organisations, and design of performance management systems vs evaluation of their capability in use. In terms of global diversity, the papers originate from Finland, Morocco, Sweden, Italy, Brazil, Australia, and the USA. We feel sure you will find something of interest within this broad mix of papers.

In the first paper Jääskeläinen and Roitto set out to create a maturity model for performance management capability using a structured method based on a design science approach. From the literature review they design a model with a compact set of variables and then obtain data from practice through a survey comprising 271 responses from Finnish organisations. Four profiles of capability are established and statistically verified in the model. The authors claim that their approach balances theoretical rigour with practical relevance, i.e. they have produced a model that is theoretically valid but also easy and useful to apply in practice. We look forward to feedback from practitioners on the maturity model’s application in their organisations.

The next paper also deals with maturity models. Benmoussa, Abdelkabir, Abd and Hassou focus on how a capability maturity model (CMM) can be combined with standards for specifying processes to help support evaluation in a supply chain. The focus of their paper is on distribution logistics. The authors start by investigating the conceptual and theoretical issues associated with integrating the two approaches before presenting a case study located in a furniture company. Originally designed to evaluate an organisation’s capability to produce software, CMMs, have gained a lot of traction and have been applied in a variety of areas including supply chains. Standards for describing and specifying processes have been around for a while; for example standards produced by the British and International Standards Organisations spring to mind. In this case the authors use the X50 standard from AFNOR (www.afnor.org/en accessed 10 November 2014) to provide a template for specifying the integrated logistics processes that they study. In a conceptual and technical analysis, the authors demonstrate the potential for integrating the two approaches while flagging up a number of issues that need to be pursued.

In common with the previous paper, the third paper deals with logistics processes. Ulgen and Forslund explore to what extent best practices are deployed in the performance management of logistics in textile supply chains; and what barriers exist to adopting best practices. The authors assert that the industry sector is little researched and so they adopt an exploratory case methodology where they compare two supply chains, one global and one smaller chain based in the Nordic region. The cases differ more than they are similar and therefore lead to a conclusion that the textiles sector may be diverse; but the authors also conclude that the sector may be similar to other, more-researched, industry sectors in terms of the practices adopted and barriers to be surmounted.

In contrast to the previous papers, the fourth paper takes the public sector as its focus. The authors (Manes Rossi and Aversano) analyse the implementation of performance measurement tools in medium-to-large local government organisations in Italy and compare practice with standards promoted by professional bodies including the International Public Sector Accounting Standards Board (IPSASB), among others. They collected data via a descriptive survey with responding managers drawn from 34 local government organisations each serving more than 50,000 inhabitants. Their results show that Italian organisations are reluctant to go beyond their compliance with national legal requirements and adopt voluntary protocols such as those from the IPSASB. The authors suspect that Italy is less inclined to become involved with such standards compared with other countries. However, they point out that conformance to existing national requirements is a feature of many countries and such requirements, along with individual country’s cultural and historical contexts, need to be taken in to account when drawing up international standards for performance measurement systems. Among their final comments is a plea for more consultation during the drafting stage if international standards are to be adopted on a wider scale – at the moment consultation seems to be on an ad hoc basis.

The pages of this journal show that Six Sigma is a popular improvement philosophy that originates from the USA and has spread to many developed economies. In contrast to this focus on developed economies, this paper explores Six Sigma implementation in one of the emerging group of BRIC[1] countries: Brazil. Jesus, Antony, Lepikson and Teixeira Cavalcante designed and administered a questionnaire survey that secured 103 responses from personnel in 29 manufacturing companies that had implemented Six Sigma. Three quarters of the companies employed more than 500 employees and the majority (65 per cent) were companies native to Brazil. The results show that although the Six Sigma programme is highly valued by the companies, its implementation is restricted with companies relying on a third of the recommended number of personnel trained to “belt” level. Using factor analysis, three key aspects were identified as contributing to success of the programme: top management commitment, management systems and project selection, and how black belts are utilised on projects. These three aspects appear to match with those that appear in studies of implementation in developed economies – but experience shows there are bound to be differences between the two contexts.

Self-organising teams is a fairly recent idea that is gaining in popularity for organisational management. However, some senior managers argue that the idea subverts the conventional hierarchical management structure and they are therefore opposed to it. Researchers and other commentators point out that there is considerable knowledge gap connected with the notion of team self-organisation; i.e. more needs to be known about it. In the last standard paper of this issue Parker, Holesgrove and Pathak provide a conceptual piece where they set out to examine how leadership style affects these self-organising teams and their productivity. Based on a thorough literature review they develop a set of hypotheses and a framework proposing how the variables link together. Clearly the theorising contained in this paper is an initial step toward trying to contribute empirically to a greater understanding of how self-organising teams function. We look forward to seeing the results of this endeavour in future papers.

The final paper of this issue is a reflective practice piece. A number of recent, high-profile cases of contamination in the food chain in Europe have increased concerns about how safety and traceability can be improved in these chains. Similar concerns about food safety in the USA have motivated the study reported in their paper. Kumar, Heustis and Graham set out to examine how to improve tracking of food products throughout the US food supply chain and focus in particular on logistic processes and product recall. They identify RFID as holding out some substantial benefits, but they acknowledge that the costs of RFID are a major barrier to its widespread adoption throughout the supply chain. Their final plea is for individual companies within (global) food chains to endeavour to do more to improve food safety. The authors comment in the early part of their paper on the voluntary nature of securing food safety in the USA. Perhaps, an approach other than leaving it to the market might be useful in this situation?

T.F. Burgess and John Heap

Note

1. Brazil, Russia, India and China.