International Journal of Productivity and Performance Management

ISSN: 1741-0401

Article publication date: 20 September 2011


Burgess, T. (2011), "Editorial", International Journal of Productivity and Performance Management, Vol. 60 No. 7. https://doi.org/10.1108/ijppm.2011.07960gaa.001



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited


Article Type: Editorial From: International Journal of Productivity and Performance Management, Volume 60, Issue 7

Welcome to our latest issue. Just as the editorial for the last issue pointed out that it was the last to be prepared under the old manual system, this is the first issue to be prepared under the new, electronic ScholarOne system. This has meant your editors have had to learn a new set of skills that, hopefully, will improve their productivity and performance! Also hopefully, the output of the process will be similar to – or even better than – before, in that we have six interesting papers to attract your attention. Five of them are academic papers and we finish off with a reflective practice paper. This issue has, unlike others, a developed world/Western feel to the context of the papers. We have papers related to the USA, Canada (two), Austria, and Sweden. However, irrespective of its origins, the knowledge in these papers applies to economies across the globe.

In our first paper, Srimai, Radford and Wright review the literature to provide a broad, sweeping narrative of the development of performance measurement that emphasises the impact that context has had on the evolution of ideas in this field. Although the authors’ affiliations relate to Thailand and New Zealand, they focus mainly on the USA in their review, thus acknowledging its importance – but they do not do so exclusively, and therefore deliver something of interest to the international community. A perspective is adopted that perceives performance measurement systems as managerial innovations, and the authors use this to examine the design and use of these innovations within their societal and organisational contexts. They identify four broad development paths, namely from operations to strategic, measurement to management, static to dynamic and economic-profit to stakeholder focus.

The ubiquity of the Balanced Scorecard (BSC) is a defining characteristic of our field of performance management. Soderberg, Kalagnanam, Sheehan and Vaidyanathan, in the second paper, explore an issue associated with this pervasiveness, namely that practitioners’ conceptions of what constitutes BSC vary widely, as do the nature of BSC implementations in practice. Why should this matter? Well for one thing if we are interested in linking organisational performance improvement to some intervention, in this case BSC, then we need to ensure that we are dealing with the same intervention adopted in different places. Put this another way, some may be “proper” implementations while others may be badly flawed. Based on Kaplan and Norton’s seminal work the authors design a five-level taxonomy of BSC implementation and then apply this taxonomy to categorise a sample of 149 surveyed organisations in Canada; 111 are categorised as BSC and 38 as non-BSC implementations. One interesting aspect of the survey is the discrepancy between the authors’ categorisation and the self-declaration of respondents. In essence, respondents declare their company has a BSC when the authors say not, and vice versa.

The third paper focuses on a recent management preoccupation – that of the notion of process orientation, also known as process management, which has superseded the idea of organising in traditional functional silos. Kohlbacher and Grünwald apply multivariate methods to data collected via a survey yielding 132 valid company responses in Austrian manufacturing industry. Data availability reduced their data set for the regression analysis to cover 70 firms. A key conclusion of the analysis is that both the process owner role and performance measurement need to be present at the process level for the organisation to generate the expected higher organisation performance.

Our next paper by Chowdhury, Wodchis and Laporte focuses on productivity in health care services in Ontario, Canada, where the main expenditure of the sector relates to hospitals, which are not-for-profit organisations. They apply a Malmquist productivity approach to panel data using DEA. However, they show disappointing results overall, in that overall productivity and efficiency have declined in the sector over the period studied, from 2003 to 2006. Their results suggest that productivity growth occurred through improvement in technology in spite of declining efficiency.

In the fifth paper, John, Kuznecov, Thomas and Davies offer a detailed and technical approach to designing cellular manufacturing facilities. Their version of the weighted similarity coefficient approach aims to lower the transportation costs between machines by identifying how the sequence of machines should be best arranged. They provide some preliminary results that demonstrate the potential improvement from the technique but caution that more detailed investigation with wider datasets is required.

The last paper in this issue is the reflective practice paper which focuses on what the authors call the productivity potential assessment method (PPA). In their paper, Almström and Kinnander concentrate on assessing the potential for increasing productivity in a Swedish factory by concentrating their analysis on a selected bottleneck in the factory. Interestingly the approach was designed to counteract the tendency for outsourcing that has featured a great deal in the recent manufacturing landscape. The authors make an interesting, but worrying, comment about the attitudes of some of the managers of the plants where they have applied their method over a number of years. They assert that in situations where factory management have previously embarked on improving productivity they want the PPA to validate that they achieved high productivity and are inclined to ignore findings that suggest that potential for further improvement exists. I guess this is a productivity version of the “not invented here” syndrome.

Tom Burgess