Measuring and Improving Productivity in Services

Measuring and Improving Productivity in Services

Issues, Strategies and Challenges

Services, Economy and Innovation series

Faridah Djellal and Faïz Gallouj

The definition and measurement of productivity in services raises important conceptual, methodological and strategic problems. This book aims to provide a critical review of the main debates on productivity in the domain of services. The first part examines the theoretical consequences of services specificities on the concept of productivity and reviews the attempts to measure it. The second part is devoted to the main determinants of productivity growth and the strategies to increase productivity in service firms and organisations.

General conclusion

Faridah Djellal and Faïz Gallouj

Subjects: economics and finance, industrial economics, services


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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