Tuesday 28 July, 2015
6:30 for a 7:00 pm start, finishing at 20:45
De Santis 11-13 Old Street (near junction with Goswell Road)
London EC1V 9HL
Image © mindscanner [Source: Shutterstock]
Britain has a productivity problem. Its relative standing in the international league tables has been in decline since the 1870s — when it was in pole position — but the big change was in the 1970s, when most Western European countries overtook it, claims Stephen Wood, Professor of Management at University of Leicester. It declined before the recession, and has rallied, but has plateaued since 2013. If a significant increase in productivity is one of the keys to the much predicted economic recovery it may not materialise.
Since the election the discussion of productivity has moved to the mainstream, in the media and politics, and the recent Productivity plan announcement from HM Government indicates the new administration is taking this seriously. But bigger questions remain.
The uptake of ICT and the creation of the ‘networked society’ promised increased in efficiency and productivity, but they have not appeared in the way many expected. Now robotics, automation, and autonomous systems offer great upsides in productivity, but should we be skeptical in the face of the boosters? Why has productivity failed to rally in the UK compared to other advanced economies such as the US? What is the relationship of services — including healthcare — and productivity? Should productivity be measured in new ways? How has ICT impacted — and might it impact — on productivity? What is the potential — and what are the challenges — around autonomous systems? Is the focus on productivity taking place at the expense of other aspects of economic progress?
The discussion will be introduced by Phil Mullan, economist and business manager, and author of The Imaginary Time Bomb. Following the model of the previous discussion, we will be encouraging participants to write-up their conclusions; we will also be discussing in what forms we might collectively communicate our insights.
There is a small cost to take part in this discussion (to cover the costs of food and refreshments).
If you’re interested in meaningful insights into, and serious debate around, these themes, please join us!
Papers and reports
- Fixing the foundations: creating a more prosperous nation, HM Treasury, Department for Business, Innovation & Skills, 10 July 2015 (Part of Summer Budget 2015) Productivity plan: government action to increase UK productivity growth across the next decade
- Policy paper: Our plan for growth: science and innovation, HM Treasury, Department for Business, Innovation & Skills and The Rt Hon Greg Clark MP, 17 December 2014 [added 24/07/2015]
- The UK productivity puzzle by Alina Barnett, Sandra Batten, Adrian Chiu, Jeremy Franklin and María Sebastiá-Barriel of the Bank’s Monetary Analysis Directorate, Bank of England Quarterly Bulletin 2014 Q2 [PDF of paper]
- The Productivity Conundrum, Interpreting the Recent Behaviour of the Economy, Office For National Statistics, 24 August 2012
- Why should we Care about Productivity? [abstract], Vicky Pryce, National Institute Economic Review, No. 231 (Special Issue assessing the Economic Record of the Coalition Government) [added 24/07/2015]: examines the potential explanations for the UK’s ‘productivity puzzle’ and concludes that while it remains just that – a puzzle – most of the explanations point to the demand side, and in particular an increase in risk aversion with businesses reluctant to invest and workers reluctant to seek higher pay or take the risk of moving jobs. This is a result of both the international environment (in particular the Eurozone problems) and domestic policy; calls for a stable framework allowing an increase in growth-enhancing capital investment, and hence in productivity and real wages
- Productivity: getting the best out of people, CIPD Policy Reports, June 2015
- NIESR Discussion Paper: The UK’s Productivity Puzzle, Bryson, A. and Forth, J., National Institute of Economic and Social Research, May, 2015 [added 24/07/2015]
- NIESR Discussion Paper: The UK Productivity Puzzle 2008-2013: Evidence From British Businesses, Riley, R. and Rosazza Bondibene, C., National Institute of Economic and Social Research, May, 2015 [added 24/07/2015]
- The UK Productivity Puzzle, National Institute of Economic and Social Research, November, 2014
- See working papers by Professor Nicholas Crafts, Department of Economics, University of Warwick
Policy Network: We need a dynamic, democratic capitalism, Thomas Aubrey, Policy Exchange, 22 July 2015 [added 24/07/2015]
- ‘We need to talk about the economy‘ Phil Mullan, spiked, 6 May 2015
- ‘Easy money is no solution for hard times‘ Phil Mullan, spiked, 11 June 2014
- ‘There’s nothing puzzling about Britain’s stagnation‘ Phil Mullan, spiked, 4 June 2013
- Mark Beatson’s blog: Government productivity plan is built on sand, Mark Beatson, CIPD Chief Economist, 22 July 2015 [added 24/07/2015]
- The economy and productivity: If Britain cannot get more from its legion of cheap workers, the recovery will stall, The Economist, Mar 14th 2015 (and see The Economist on Britain’s summer budget) [added 24/07/2015]
- ‘To boldly go: chancellor sets out productivity plans in summer budget‘, The Engineer, 8 July 2015
- ‘Productivity plan aims to make Britain the wealthiest major economy by 2030‘, The Engineer, 10 July 2015
- ‘To solve Britain’s productivity puzzle, try asking the workers‘, Stephen Wood, Professor of Management at University of Leicester, The Conversation, June 29, 2015
- Productivity, The Bottom Line, BBC Radio 4, 30 May 2015: The programme asks what productivity really means and how different sectors go about measuring it [Notes by Nico Macdonald]
For further reading, listening and watching review bookmarks tagged ‘productivity’ on Delicious
19:00: Reading time
19:15: Introductions by participants
19:25: Introduction of themes by Phil Mullan
19:40: Discussion of the themes
20:40: Planning around writing and other initiatives
If you have questions about the event please contact Nico Macdonald