Productivity: What's Going on in Europe

By Lucey, John | Management Services, Spring 2007 | Go to article overview

Productivity: What's Going on in Europe


Lucey, John, Management Services


Productivity improvement is very much alive and kicking in Europe and there are several organisations involved in improving productivity.

The aim of this article is to identify the organisations and examine their aims and objectives in more depth in subsequent articles. The current players are:

1. The Institute of Management Services

2. The European Association of National Productivity Centres (EANPC)

3. The European Federation of Productivity Services (EFPS)

4. The Irish Association of Industrial Engineers (IAIE)

Obviously members of the IMS are aware of the aims and activities of the Institute. In this article we will explore the aims and activities of the EANPC.

1.THeEANPC

The European Association of National Productivity Centres - EANPC - was established in 1966. Its seat is in Brussels. It is an association of national bi- and tri-partite bodies which contribute, each in its own country, to the enhancement of productivity, innovation, the quality of working life (QWL) and employment within companies and the economy overall.

As a pan-European organisation, the EANPC is open to all European countries, not being limited to the countries of the European Union. It is a part of, and actively contributes to, the worldwide network of productivity and QWL organisations. Through its support of productivity enhancement, the EANPC and its national member organisations contribute to improving living and working conditions. Their work supports economic and social development on the national and international levels in the interest of fair competition.

As a European body, the EANPC supports other international organisations such as the ILO, the OECD and the European Commission, whereas the national members buttress, each in its own country, the state and enterprises in order to promote economic growth, innovation, better working conditions and employment.

The EANPC is also acting in order to maintain a network (European Productivity Network: EPN) that includes organisations that for different reasons are not members of EANPC. The association is especially interested in keeping up contacts and information exchange with other bodies that are active in the productivity field either on a global scale or in the European countries. Such network partners will be invited to visit EANPC seminars and they are free to find other ways of cooperation with the members of EANPC according to mutual agreements. These EPN-partners do not have formal rights within EANPC, but are not paying membership fees either.

To underpin the development of productivity, the EANPC organises and contributes to exchanges of experiences between member organisations, potential members and other organisations worldwide. It collects and collates research results on the factors influencing productivity and their impact, stimulates the transfer of know-how from research to economic policy and enterprises and acts as a partner for various national bodies and organisations, particularly ministries and other societal institutions, unions and employers associations and companies, especially SMEs.

1.1 The challenge of the 21st century

At the beginning of the 21st century, all countries are confronted with a constantly changing set of challenges. These, to name the most significant, are:

* The globalisation of the economy for services, goods and labour;

* The development of global production and distribution systems;

* Increased expectations on the social responsibility of business;

* Increasing concern about environmental impacts;

* The growth of both unemployment and new forms of employment, such as self employed knowledge workers;

* The shift in competitiveness from cost factors to innovation and customisation;

* The shift from mass production to customised variety and quality production, with greater emphasis on capital productivity and 'instant' availability;

* The changing structure of production to networked production;

* The need to develop and disseminate forms of work organisation that reproduce rather than exhaust human capital (sustainable work);

* The advent of the information society and the associated importance of knowledge management;

* The rise of the concept of virtual and mobile work and its consequences for the nature of work. …

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