The New Productivity Challenge

THE SINGLE GREATEST CHALLENGE facing managers in the developed countries of the world is to raise the productivity of knowledge and service workers. This challenge, which will dominate the management agenda for the next several decades, will ultimately determine the competitive performance of companies. Even more important, it will determine the very fabric of society and the quality of life in every industrialized nation.

For the last 120 years, productivity in making and moving things—in manufacturing, farming, mining, construction, and transportation—has risen in developed countries at an annual rate of 3% to 4%, a 45-fold expansion overall. On this explosive growth rest all the gains these nations and their ...

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