International Journal of Productivity and Performance Management

ISSN: 1741-0401

Article publication date: 1 July 2004


Radnor, Z. and Heap, J. (2004), "Editorial", International Journal of Productivity and Performance Management, Vol. 53 No. 5. https://doi.org/10.1108/ijppm.2004.07953eaa.001



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2004, Emerald Group Publishing Limited


This issue of The International Journal of Productivity and Performance Management has a fairly “quantitative” feel about it, with four of the papers using statistical methodology in order to understand and evaluate either productivity or performance within various organisational settings.

The range of the topics and organisations covered, and the nature of the results, continues to demonstrate that the arena of performance measurement and management is a rich and colourful one. Thus, this issue considers small to medium size enterprises (SMEs) alongside banks and a police force.

Rightly in a journal with the word “international” in its title, papers within this issue represent the UK, USA, Taiwan, European Union (EU) and the Czech Republic.

Finally, productivity and performance measurement and management are explored at different organisational levels from the complete organisation to the operational unit.

What these papers collectively show is that we cannot take for granted (nor perhaps should we expect or want to) that there is general agreement on what could be defined as performance measurement or performance management. The job of a journal like this one is to represent all views and help promote debate.

The first paper by O’Regan and Ghobadian considers carefully the difference between managing short-term and long-term performance and suggests that a focus on short-term performance is often driven by “internal attributes” whereas long-term performance is driven by “external attributes”. The paper derives a framework which links together strategy, leadership style, culture types, organisational capacity and performance. It considers the relationship between these in order and discusses which of the attributes might best be addressed when seeking to affect short-term or long-term performance. The aim is to offer practical guidance to managers in manufacturing SMEs. It would be interesting, as the paper suggests, to explore whether the results are applicable to large manufacturing or service organisations.

The second paper by Ho and Zhu was awarded a “highly commended paper” by Emerald at the Business Excellence International Conference in Portugal (June 2003). The paper attempts to evaluate two of the fundamental concepts surrounding performance measurement and management – efficiency and effectiveness. The paper argues, through statistical correlation, that better efficiency does not always lead to better effectiveness. This is interesting when we consider the classic three Es model which has often argued a linkage between economy (resources allocated), efficiency (how well the resources have been utilised) and effectiveness (the output or outcome). This paper applies a mathematical programming approach called data envelopment analysis (DEA – which has been used in other research around the performance of banks) in order to carry out a two stage methodology considering the relationship between efficiency and effectiveness. The results are interesting and add to the debate on both the relevance of the three E model and to approaches that focus purely on output (quantitative) effectiveness as a means of measuring performance.

The third paper by Espitia-Escuer and García-Cebrián also considers the banking sector but this time for EU countries. This paper starts by examining productive efficiency using aggregate data for each country. Taking these results the paper then attempts to determine which factors influence the values of this efficiency across the various countries in the EU. The paper suggests that there is a relationship between the inhabitants per office and employee and the population density. The paper provides some interesting initial findings and offers thoughts on the various contextual differences (that we often know exist but find difficult to prove) within countries which at times are managed as a single union.

The fourth paper by Antony, Somasundarum, Fergusson and Blecharz applies the well-researched technique of statistical design of experiments (SDOE) developed by Taguchi to two manufacturing companies in the Czech Republic. Successful deployment of this technique has been successfully demonstrated in the European Union (EU) and the USA but to date has had little exposure in the Czech Republic and other countries which have recently joined the EU. The paper argues that there has been a lack of awareness of quality management and process improvement strategies and principles, little education on applied industrial statistics and a lack of resources to initiate pilot studies. The research exposes the organisations involved to the techniques as well as more directly addressing important areas of poor performance. The paper argues that together these joint achievements demonstrate the relevance of such techniques as SDOE to a wider “audience” including countries such as the Czech Republic.

The final paper by Collier, Edwards and Shaw is somewhat different to the other papers in this issue in terms of its coverage. It links the important subject areas of knowledge management and performance management. The paper is an applied, reflective piece of work which evaluates the organisational knowledge management processes with the communication about performance in an English police force. The police are increasingly expected to communicate with a range of both internal and external stakeholders. These include the demanding audiences of the government and the public, both of whom see themselves as owners, or at least funders, of the police service. The police need to report against a wide set of performance metrics to central government and increasingly the direct or indirect means of collecting the data is through some form of technology. However, this paper suggests that in practice what is created is communication about performance measurement rather than performance management – and there are few resulting behavioural changes. The knowledge management is thus concerned with managing the explicit but not the tacit knowledge. The paper concludes that effective knowledge management needs to involve and combine individual learning with the underlying technology base.

These papers show that the field of productivity and performance management is still developing and demonstrate that there are both similarities and differences in the ways in which tools and techniques are used. They also show that researchers are beginning to explore new areas – in terms of geography, and in terms of organisation nature, size and shape. Such extension of coverage can only help the development of the knowledge base and lead to a greater understanding of how effective strategies for productivity and performance management can be appropriately determined for specific situations.

Zoe Radnor, John Heap