Radnor, Z. and Heap, J. (2004), "Editorial", International Journal of Productivity and Performance Management, Vol. 53 No. 6. https://doi.org/10.1108/ijppm.2004.07953faa.001
Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2004, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
This issue of the International Journal of Productivity and Performance Management brings you four interesting and dynamic papers. These papers demonstrate clearly the eclectic and wide-reaching nature of the topic of productivity and performance measurement. They also show clearly that the field of performance management is beginning to move away from discussions of performance management frameworks and tools and towards consideration of some of the “softer” elements that affect performance. These papers address some of these elements – customer requirements, the workforce and the context for performance. We hope that between the papers presented and the information and updates given in the professional practice section that you find this issue helps in furtherance of this trend. We also, of course, hope you find this issue interesting and insightful!
The first paper, by Sahney, Banwet and Karunes, relates to the topic of total quality management (TQM), argued by some to be the forerunner (and still an integral part) of effective performance management. This paper interestingly considers the application of TQM to higher education. This is timely: the issue of “high rated performance” and customer focus is being considered and discussed far more in higher education institutions due to the rise of “consumerism” among students and also due to the evaluation and auditing processes imposed on them by a variety of external bodies (e.g. the RAE and QAA within the UK). In the study reported within this paper, various groups of customers (both internal and external) are presented with a number of constructs assigned to them generated from the TQM literature. The study then attempts to assess, through a questionnaire, the importance/degree assigned to these various customer requirement constructs across the various internal and external customer groups. The findings show, however, that no significant difference was found to the different customer requirement constructs between the various groupings both in terms of role in the institution and the sector (i.e. engineering and management).
The second paper, by Aghazadeh, considers the issue of workforce diversity suggesting that if managers learn to understand and manage diversity more effectively, organisational performance can be improved. The paper discusses the concept of diversity before discussing both the advantages and disadvantages to workforce diversity in the workplace and presents a case study example of an organisation that has barred discrimination in the workplace. The paper argues that being able to manage a diverse workplace will be a core competence for the majority of companies in today’s business environment, and reminds us that these companies are also probably serving a diverse market and customer base. The ability to recognise and deal with these internal and external environments can drive up performance within the organisation.
The third paper, by Karuppan, also deals with the subject of labour or people management but this time in the context of labour flexibility, often a key underpinning of productivity. The study presented aims to identify the individual, organisational and job variables that contribute to labour flexibility and provide companies with a list of interventions designed to enhance it. The paper includes a case study of the organisation in which the research was conducted and presents some results in terms of the relationship between labour flexibility and various factors. Interesting findings include that tenure and emotional stability can ease a worker’s flexibility; an emphasis on quality and speed have a positive influence on labour flexibility and; that task complexity supports workers in expanding their skills base and so enhancing their flexibility.
The final paper, by Donnelly, is a practitioner paper that examines current changes within the Scottish Government in terms of change management and the underlying aim of improving public services. The author, Mike Donnelly, was until recently the Principal Special Advisor to the First Minister of Scotland so can reflect on the situation first hand. The paper reports on the early developments and emergence of the Scottish Executive’s organisational change programme. In particular it highlights the relationship between elected and senior un-elected officials and outlines research and thoughts into the expectations of each group upon each other. The paper concludes by listing challenges facing the Scottish government in terms of culture and behaviour, engagement with stakeholders and getting processes right. Whilst, it could be argued, that none of these are surprising (given the literature on change management) what is challenging is developing or addressing them within a public sector environment, where traditionally the need to deliver value or be accountable is still a relevantly new concept.
This issue deliberately reflects these “softer”, less tangible aspects of productivity and performance management, recognising that it is affected by relationships with customers, by the way the workforce is managed and understood with relation to various factors including diversity and flexibility and, finally by the overall environment in which performance management takes place. Of course, there are other factors that affect the complex issue of performance; we hope to address these in future issues. If you feel that you can contribute to the knowledge base and the debate, please send in your thoughts and research to the co-editors! As we better understand the interplay of the various factors, we become more able to predict the effects of situational changes and deliberate interventions.
Zoe Radnor, John Heap