Burgess, T. and Heap, J. (2012), "Editorial", International Journal of Productivity and Performance Management, Vol. 61 No. 2. https://doi.org/10.1108/ijppm.2012.07961baa.002Download as .RIS
Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Article Type: Editorial From: International Journal of Productivity and Performance Management, Volume 61, Issue 2
As usual we have six papers in this issue. Again, as is typical, the papers cover a broad terrain; from welfare to manufacturing; from performance at the level of the country to that of the individual; from academic research to more practical case studies; and from developed economies to those emerging. The first paper connects with one of the major challenges of today; how to achieve productivity in public welfare systems. The growth in population size and the increasing proportion of aged members means that globally, and particularly in developed countries, governments are looking to wring more efficiency out of welfare systems. Governments face hard choices; ones, which become even harder if what we mean by productivity is in doubt. Lönnqvist and Laihonen seek to shed light on this conundrum in their paper on the concept of welfare productivity and its application. They first examine the literature and theorise to try to pin down the concepts involved. Second they apply their ideas to a large social services department in Helsinki, Finland. Whereas much of previous contributions have looked at individual organisations, they attempt a broader, systems-level view of things. We live in an increasingly-complex, inter-connected world and such initiatives as theirs, that look to optimise productivity at the system level, are to be welcomed.
Lönnqvist and Laihonen comment, among other things, on how individuals can make a big impact on large, complex systems. In the second paper we travel to this micro-perspective and look at a long-standing topic in work study (industrial engineering for those outside the UK) namely that of rating individual’s task performance. Mann, Budworth and Ismaila remind us that rating, a product of scientific management, is not the objective tool that many seem to assume it is. Interestingly their study focuses on counter-productive behaviours rather than taking the traditional tack of ignoring such aspects. They show that rater-bias and random measurement-effects obscure accuracy and that rater disagreement is a consistent phenomenon across dimensions of performance. They argue that raters take counter-productive behaviours in to account when assessing productive behaviour and that a rater’s view of the former can markedly affect the latter. Just a thought – their study was conducted in Canada – your editors wonder if this kind of rater behaviour might be culturally-dependent?
The third paper is the first in a sequence of three that all focus on the automotive industry. The author, Vanichchinchai, examines the links between employee involvement (through TQM), partnership management (through SCM) and supply performance in Thailand by applying regression analysis to data drawn from 211 firms. He found positive correlation between employee involvement and partnership management, and between employee involvement and supply performance. In essence successful use of TQM impacts positively not just internally, but also externally on the management and performance of suppliers. Presumably that’s why the Total is there in TQM!
The authors of the fourth paper (Sarwar, Ishaque, Ehsan, Pirzada and Nasir) adopt a critical approach to productivity management in the automotive industry of their home country, Pakistan. They present a case study that focuses on two major manufacturers and explores the different areas of productivity from an economics viewpoint. According to their findings, productivity professionals can still do a lot to improve manufacturing industry in Pakistan. If this is representative of all emerging countries then we could see there are some real opportunities for productivity improvement and hence economic advance globally. This could well be another outcome of the huge amount of outsourcing of production that has occurred globally.
The next paper is a shorter piece focussed on practice. Gupta, Acharya and Patwardhan take us through how lean six-sigma has been used to reduce defects in the manufacture of automotive tyres in India. Their case study demonstrates the substantial improvements that can be captured by applying improvement methodologies such as lean six-sigma. This reinforces the message from the previous paper that there is substantial scope for improving the state of the global economy by productivity improvements in emerging economies given the major global shifts in manufacturing.
The final paper, by Parker, Harrington and Nixon, explores the topic of leadership within the context of project management. Given the increasing importance within our modern economy of teams working on projects, then the pivotal role of the leader becomes more and more critical. The authors also point to the widening out of what is meant by success; away from standard technical measures to ones that address the satisfaction of multiple stakeholders. In their insightful piece, Parker, Harrington and Nixon move beyond the rhetoric to critically analyse the role of leadership in project outcomes and come to the conclusion that leadership performance and lack of management of leadership performance can be significant explicators of project success or failure. Given that project failure rates are often pretty high, then the opportunity to develop leadership performance management systems seems to be a fruitful one to pursue.
Tom Burgess, John Heap