Rethinking the Productivity Puzzle 2

Type: Paper
Sponsor Groups:
Poster #:
Day: 4/7/2019
Start / End Time: 9:55 AM / 11:35 AM (Eastern Standard Time)
Room: Cabinet Room, Omni, West
Organizers: Tim Vorley
Chairs: Gary Dymski


Rethinking the Productivity Puzzle

Productivity, and productivity challenges, are analysed from many different perspectives and across multiple scales. From micro analyses of firm performance to sectoral analyses of industries and macroeconomic assessments of national productivity, the way we think about productivity has evolved significantly over recent years. In many countries, long-run productivity slowdowns have been exacerbated by the 2008 global financial crisis, and the lack of widespread lack of recovery is generally known as the ‘productivity puzzle’. We know that productivity and productivity growth areunderstood to be a result of a complex interplay between many different factors and interaction mechanisms. These include the quality and quantity of factor inputs, management, R&D spending and economic geography, as well as endogenous and exogenous (institutional) factors that determine the (re)allocation of factors of production and the diffusion/adoption of knowledge and technologies. Yet, more than how these factors individually enable and constrain productivity, it is how they relate and intersect – questions that are often only implicitly addressed that is really key for understanding the productivity puzzle.

From this perspective, the geography of productivity has recently emerged as a central theme in many national and international debates, as the productivity gaps in many countries between the leading and lagging regions have grown. Geography is crucial to understanding the productivity challenge facing many advanced economies, with many productivity-enhancing and productivity-inhibiting processes are often being place specific. Recent research has also highlighted the increasingly acute impact emerging technologies (i.e. automation, digital, and artificial intelligence) may be having on productivity both between andwithin countries, as well as exacerbating productivityvariations at the firm level. Indeed, these disparities appear to have given rise to a geography of discontent which has underpinned many of the recent populist political shifts and attention has started to focus on the productivity-related prospects for many of these regions. The scale of these political shocks calls for a re-examination of the drivers and inhibitors of productivity, and a reconsideration of the role that geography plays in these processes, and in the UK this work is being spearheaded by the Productivity Insights Network (

In order to gain a deeper understanding of these issues the work of the UK Productivity Insights Network has highlighted a range of thematic areas that shape productivity, including: education and skills; work and employment; FDI and investment markets; health, well-being and demography; technology and innovation; institutions and governance; and, infrastructure. The AAG session organized by the Productivity Insights Network is designed to push these debates forward, sharing insights and experiences from different countries. This session seeks papers that rethink the productivity puzzle through a place-based lens, linking to either one or more of the thematic areas, and offering new insights or challenging conventional thinking. Papers mayfocus on one or more of the five key interaction mechanisms by which these occur include: 1) knowledge spillovers and interactions; 2) financial interactions; 3) organisationalinteractions; 4) social interactions; and; 5) governance interactions.


Type Details Minutes Start Time
Discussant Gary Dymski University of Leeds 20 9:55 AM
Discussant Vania Sena 20 10:15 AM
Discussant Simon Collinson University of Birmingham 20 10:35 AM
Presenter Beldina Owalla, University of Sheffield, Tim Vorley*, , Cristian Gherhes, University of Sheffield, Factors Affecting SME Productivity: A Systematic Review and Research Agenda 20 10:55 AM

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