Organization Productivity: A Classic Area Receives Renewed Emphasis
Emphasis on productivity is in vogue again because of factors in the external environment of U.S. organizations. Some of these factors are the large international balance of payments deficit, the sizable federal budget deficit, increased foreign competition in both overseas and domestic markets, and the growing sense that the United States may have lost its competitive edge. If current economic trends and the attention of the mass media on productivity-related topics are any indication, the subject will be of considerable interest well into this decade.
Many of these trends seem to be altering the very fabric of the U.S. economy. These macroeconomic events are challenging U.S. organizations in new and different ways, and the level of the challenge may be higher than at any time in the recent past. The turbulence of the environment of many public and private organizations and the stiff foreign competition faced by many private firms have made productivity and performance issues a top priority.
Early in the 1980s public-sector organizations turned to private firms in their effort to increase productivity. However, with the recognition that many U.S. businesses, themselves, were proving less than competitive with foreign firms, government organizations widened their search for approaches, techniques, and tools to improve productivity. Recently, both private firms and public organizations have sought ideas from other nations, such as Japan, and have explored the potential of both qualitative and quantitative approaches.
In the past few years, through the influence of experts such as W. E. Deming, J. M. Juran, and P. B. Crosby, efforts to improve productivity