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Nordic Economic Policy Review

Productivity and competitiveness

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The Nordic Economic Policy Review is published by the Nordic Council of Ministers and addresses policy issues in a way that is useful for in-formed non-specialists as well as for professional economists. All articles are commissioned from leading professional economists and are subject to peer review prior to publication. The review appears twice a year. The journal is distributed free of charge to the members of the Nordic economic associations. The easiest way to subscribe to the NEPR is therefore to become a member of one of these associations, i.e., Denmark: Nationaløkonomisk Forening Finland: Taloustieteellinen Yhdistys Norway: Samfunnsøkonomene Sweden: Nationalekonomiska Föreningen. For institutional subscriptions, please contact [email protected] Content: The widening productivity gap between the EU and the US: An introduction to the conference on productivity and competitiveness - Jakob B. Madsen and Anders Sørensen Up the hill and down again: A history of Europe’s productivity gap relative to the United States, 1950-2009 - Bart van Ark Comment by Matti Pohjola Regulation, resource reallocation and productivity growth - Jens Matthias Arnold, Giuseppe Nicoletti and Stefano Scarpetta Comment by Mika Maliranta Human capital and productivity - Angel de la Fuente Comment by Pekka Ilmakunnas Productivity and international firm activities: What do we know? - Joachim Wagner Comment by Markku Stenborg Innovation and productivity - Bronwyn H. Hall Comment by Ari Hyytinen A personnel economics approach to productivity enhancement - Edward P. Lazear and Kathryn L. Shaw Comment by Tuomas Pekkarinen Productivity and education: Benchmarking of elementary and lower secondary schools in Denmark - Peter Bogetoft and Jesper Wittrup Comment by Timo Kuosmanen

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A personnel economics approach to productivity enhancement

Personnel economics is a field that grew out of business education and the need to provide aspiring managers with methods for increasing firm productivity. Most of the literature focuses on compensation and management practices that affect productivity with the goal of explaining in a positive sense and guiding in a normative sense the approaches that are used by firms. Examples of the practices and methods include performance pay, based on relative or absolute performance, the use of teams and their formation among workers with complementary skills, and careful screening of workers. This essay discusses some of the empirically most significant productivity-increasing methods, the importance of which is growing over time. The use of these practices is closely aligned with technological change, especially that which has made measurement, implementation and the necessity to use these approaches more critical. As technology progresses, personnel economic approaches to productivity enhancement are likely to become even more important.

English

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