Issues, Strategies and Challenges
Services, Economy and Innovation series
The concept of productivity, which was developed initially for use in industrial and agricultural economies, is a ‘Fordist’ concept that poses few diﬃculties when applied to standardized products, whether goods or services. After all, it describes the technical eﬃciency of a process in terms of the ratio between a volume of clearly identiﬁed output and a factor of production. Calculating such a ratio is a simple task when we are dealing with tangible outputs. The advent of the service economy and, more generally, of the intangible economy (beyond the service sector itself) has called into question if not the relevance of the concept then at least the methods used to measure it. The question of productivity in services raises important conceptual, methodological and strategic problems for economists, national accountants, corporate managers and government oﬃcials (whose task is to ensure that public resources are used eﬃciently). We have tried, in reviewing the literature, to take stock of the theoretical, methodological and strategic debates on the problem of productivity in services. We have tried to make this survey as comprehensive as possible, mindful of the need to take into account the many diﬀerent approaches adopted in terms of deﬁnitions, measurement and strategies (that is mobilization of the factors of productivity). One of the ﬁndings of our study is that ‘groups of levels’ of diﬃculty can be identiﬁed when it comes to applying the concept of productivity (whether it is a question of de...
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