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Monday, February 13, 2006



By and large English management don't need to try harder -- a lot of them get their jobs and perquisites by way of right, because they have a prestigious degree or because of connections or both. Their well being is usually secure. But in the USA even well credentialed, well connected managers live in fear of hostile takeovers.

Landes in "The wealth and poverty of nations" writes very well about the centennial attitudes of English managers, for examples when he writes about piecework.


The Financial Times has a piece saying that productivity stats for the UK were too low due to underestimation of business investment in software. Apparantly, revisions to this component will have a meaningful impact on overall productivity.



The relationship between IT and productivity certainly contains a lag and this pattern seems consistent with evidence from other countries. But this is unlikely to produce US levels of benefit from the current starting position.

Inertia/conservatism is a big part of it and Blissex is correct to assess that the majority of UK managers are not all that good.

Why they are not good is a rather complex question. Takeovers don't happen that frequently in the US and statistically neither does management turnover. It is clear that UK recruitment processes are based around symbolic factors that don't match up well to performance. It's further worth noting that a lot of British companies are led by people from the financial/macroeconomic school who basically don't have the skills/understanding to improve productivity.

Another strand is that all services, not just public services, have a terrible productivity showing in the UK. The decline in productivity mirrors the decline in manufacturing. Of course, it's tempting to just say "the British can't do service" which accords with many personal experiences, but a bigger question is how service productivity is measured and is our mix of services the right one?

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