John Walsh

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


The problem of selecting a measurement method for productivity evaluation is one faced by many managers. There are many approaches advocated and used in firms today. As firms adopt productivity oriented management practices, and compare operating units in terms of performance, it becomes important to understand whether there are significant differences between alternative measurement procedures.;In this thesis the definition and measurement of productivity is explored from a number of disciplinary bases. Three different measurement methods, one of which is a new approach developed in part by this author, are applied to a sample of 125 branches of a Canadian financial intermediary, for each month of a six month study period. Branch productivity scores generated by these different methods are compared by Region, branch Size Group, and for the National sample as a whole. As a secondary area of interest, productivity scores are also correlated with return on assumed assets, a conventional measure used in the field site company, Canada Trust, to evaluate branch financial performance.;The results of the investigation demonstrate little agreement between measurement systems on productivity assessment. Branches that appeared highly productive under one measurement regime appeared significantly less so under other measurement systems, and vice versa. Also, productivity and financial performance correlations were low for all three measurement systems tested.;Two conclusions were reached. First, that managerial practice in organizational productivity measurement does not reflect the normative methodologies advocated in much of the productivity management literature. Second, that the selection of a productivity measurement system is an important managerial decision in the light of the fact that alternative methodologies generate conflicting evaluations of performance. It is suggested that a new conceptual and operational approach to productivity measurement at the level of the organization is emerging, grounded in managerial rather than economic or industrial engineering disciplines.



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