Title: Evolution of obstacles restraining productivity improvement

Authors: Tero Rantala; Sanna Pekkola; Hannu Rantanen; Mika Hannula

Addresses: School of Business and Management, Lappeenranta University of Technology, Lahti, Finland ' School of Business and Management, Lappeenranta University of Technology, Lahti, Finland ' School of Business and Management, Lappeenranta University of Technology, Lahti, Finland ' Tampere University of Technology, Tampere, Finland

Abstract: One of the most important elements in the overall competitiveness of companies is continuous improvement in productivity. Improvements in productivity have been recognised as having a significant influence on many social and economic phenomena such as economic growth, increased well-being and inflation control. Although continuous improvement in productivity is a well-known issue for companies, there are some factors that restrain such development work. These factors can be called obstacles restraining productivity improvement. The main aim of this study is to explore the changes in the obstacles restraining productivity improvement of Finnish small and medium-sized enterprises from 1997 to 2014. The study also aims to discover the most important obstacles restraining productivity improvement. In addition to discovering the evolution of obstacles restraining productivity improvement, the study increases the understanding of the differences amongst obstacles between manufacturing and service SMEs. The study results indicate that over the last two decades, there have been three significant categorical changes relating to the obstacles restraining productivity improvement: 1) from internal to external obstacles; 2) from lack of resources to lack of knowledge; 3) from lack of employees' knowledge and education to lack of supervisors' knowledge and education about productivity.

Keywords: productivity; obstacles restraining productivity improvement; SMEs.

DOI: 10.1504/IJPQM.2018.094293

International Journal of Productivity and Quality Management, 2018 Vol.25 No.1, pp.64 - 89

Received: 23 Dec 2016
Accepted: 22 May 2017

Published online: 02 Aug 2018 *

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