International Journal of Productivity and Performance Management

ISSN: 1741-0401

Article publication date: 20 June 2008


Radnor, Z. (2008), "Editorial", International Journal of Productivity and Performance Management, Vol. 57 No. 5. https://doi.org/10.1108/ijppm.2008.07957eaa.001



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited


Article Type: Editorial From: International Journal of Productivity and Performance Management, Volume 57, Issue 5

Having spent time travelling the world it always amazes us how some of the simplest things appear to have been copied or adapted within different countries with great impact. An example of this is TV programmes particularly the reality-based (whose reality?) and quiz shows. We think probably every country has their own version of “Big Brother”, “X Factor” and “Who wants to be a Millionaire” - what does this say about the performance, and the innovation of, media output and the people who appear in it?

There is a TV programme in the UK which is a quiz programme based around words and numbers (“Countdown”). A relatively new part of the show is an “interlude” where they discuss the origin of particular words and phrases - “a parting shot”, “to be under the weather” and so on. It strikes us that many of the explanations - though feasible - are not wholly credible … and this reminds us of the need to be sceptical in a range of situations. This is particularly true in business improvement operations when looking at current systems, processes and practices. Assume explanations are false and challenge all assumptions is the best advice … but, of course, be sensitive about handling the people.

The need to question the legitimacy of improvement methodologies is considered in the first research paper by Koumanakos. In this paper through statistical analysis the study sets out to test the hypothesis that efficient (lean) inventory management leads to an improvement in a firm’s financial performance. Through the analysis the paper finds that there is a relationship between the management practice and financial performance but also implies that the findings are not robust, suggesting that it is important to recognise that a number of factors influence the relationship. Therefore, the author suggests there is a need for further statistical analysis. This could be a case of not trusting the data or the need to not always take things at face value!

The next paper by Jyoti, Banwet and Deshmukh presents a model to evaluate the performance of national Research and Development (R&D) organizations in terms of their relative efficiency based not only on the quantity but also the quality of the output. The authors suggest that the model will provide a more comprehensive method for policy makers for evaluating the performance of national R&D organizations in terms of their relative efficiencies.

The paper by Cuthbertson and Piotrowicz studied both the literature and some case studies in order to evaluate supply chain measures. He found that the majority of the measures were economic (relating to cost, time, quality and customer) and at the operational level. Interestingly, few inter-supply chain metrics were used which reflects, still, a performance focus at individual firm level rather than across the chain. The findings also indicate that current performance measurement approaches do not generally include social and environmental issues, although these are becoming increasingly important in business.

We have been having trouble with software recently. Nothing too surprising about that, but this was ostensibly simple software we were using to aid integration between a couple of other programmes. The lesson is that a lot of time can be wasted trying to make small improvements to existing ways of working … especially when relying on non-expert interventions. This is why SMEs often resist change - they cannot afford (or will not pay for) expert advice and help but are “streetwise” enough to know their lack of expertise in some areas.

The last couple of papers are focused on SMEs. Carpinetti, Galdámez and Gerolamo pick up from Cuthbertson identifying a lack of “between firm” measures and proposing a model to capture the perspectives of performance management of a cluster of SMEs. The model emphasizes the importance of measuring leading and lagging dimensions of performance such as collective efficiency and economic/social results.

Finally, Antony’s applied paper discusses the adoption of Six Sigma within SMEs and highlights the barriers they may face.

And a final thought (inspired by this paper) … if Six Sigma is too expensive for an SME, can they pay less and implement Five Sigma?

Zoe Radnor, John Heap