International Journal of Productivity and Performance Management

ISSN: 1741-0401

Article publication date: 1 November 2011



Burgess, T. and Heap, J. (2011), "Editorial", International Journal of Productivity and Performance Management, Vol. 60 No. 8. https://doi.org/10.1108/ijppm.2011.07960haa.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 8

This edition of the journal has a distinct feel of the knowledge economy to it. The issue includes papers centred on knowledge-based organisations and knowledge-based workers; and papers that pursue topics such as how the extent of managerial knowledge can affect performance and how to build a performance system based on “fuzzy” knowledge.

Our first paper presents a carefully-crafted piece of research where de Waal, Goedegebuure and Geradts look at the impact of the introduction of a performance management system on a number of KPIs of a not-for-profit organisation. An analytical case study focuses on an institute in The Netherlands committed to developing knowledge about illnesses related to mental health, and addictive behaviour; and dedicated to applying this knowledge to improve the quality of life of target groups. The authors employ a rigorous and novel method to test the impact of the sequence of individual events that comprise the implementation of a new performance management approach on key performance areas of the organisation. The novel approach comprises ANOVA within an interrupted time series design. The authors contributes the key insight that the impact of a performance management approach in a knowledge-based public sector organisation can substantially improve performance despite the complex problem of defining performance in such circumstances. For managers the message is not just to use a performance measurement system (PMS) to monitor the impact of improvement initiatives; but to see PMS as an improvement initiative in its own right.

Simonen, Blom and Viitanen focus in the second paper on the issue of effectiveness in the secondary healthcare sector in Finland and examine how knowledgeable managers are about this concept. In fact the interviews carried out with 38 managers show that, although they self-report high levels of using knowledge of effectiveness in their context, the interviewees have difficulty with this complex concept. Different interpretations of the effectiveness concept are available in the literature, and in practice, but are mainly arrived at from a clinical perspective. In this research the studied managers have mainly administrative responsibilities; although they do look after clinical areas and some managers also have clinical responsibilities. This variety in managerial tasks exacerbates the conceptual ambiguity surrounding effectiveness. The study illustrates that the global economy’s increasing emphasis on services, where intangibles such as knowledge become more and more important, throws up increasing challenges to management.

In the third paper authors Markova and Ford apply regression techniques to questionnaire data from a sample of 288 knowledge workers and explore relationships between rewards, time worked and performance. They find that non-monetary rewards are positively correlated with the self-reported time committed to their work while monetary rewards do not display any association. Further, they show that longer work hours are correlated with more positive supervisor-evaluation of their general performance and innovation performance in particular. The results link to a complex area with room for much variety in interpretation, e.g. which direction does causality flow in the discovered correlations? Do increasing working hours really lead to increased performance and innovation? Obviously there is food for thought here.

Zangoueinezhad and Moshabaki provide our fourth paper that looks at measuring the performance of the epitome of a knowledge-based organisation, namely a university. They bring a very mathematical approach to bear but one that can deal with the imprecise world of subjectivity and preference that we meet in practice when attempting to prioritise and combine a set of performance measures. Their method is to combine the approaches of multiple attribute decision-making (MADM) and fuzzy set theory. The case they examine is an Iranian university that has adopted a balanced scorecard.

In the fifth paper Chu, Cho and Liu investigate incentive plans for buyers in the Taiwanese retail industry and study how selection of inappropriate measures can lead to dysfunctional performance behaviour. They look at buyers in a large electronics chain based in Taiwan and apply multiple regression on 293 data points to show how performance deteriorated after the introduction of a buyer incentive plan that focused on the buyers rather than on the overall organisational aims. This is a timely version of the warning that what gets measured gets done, and if the wrong thing is measured then the wrong thing gets done!

The reflective practice piece by Peter Watkins argues that the slower adoption of “shadow banking” methods compared to the USA explains, in part, why countries lag behind the labour productivity growth of the USA. He demonstrates this thesis by looking at the case of Canada. Shadow banking, as defined by the author, comprises the financial intermediaries who carry out maturity credit and liquidity transformation independent of central banks and public sector guarantees. The argument that the faster expansion in this knowledge sector has given the USA an advantage is an intriguing one, but also attracts a cautionary note from the author given the problems that have been visited on our global economy by this very same banking system.

Tom Burgess, John Heap

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