Productivity puzzles: Podcast series

How can productivity drive business success and economic recovery?

In Productivity puzzles, a new podcast series brought to you by Capita and The Productivity Institute, Bart van Ark, Professor of Productivity Studies at the University of Manchester and managing director of the Productivity Institute brings together leading minds from the UK and abroad to discuss how to improve productivity for almost everything.

Why is productivity in the UK lower than many other countries, and why is there such a difference in productivity across the regions and devolved nations? The series will share insights from the latest research on smart policies and effective business strategies to improve productivity, evaluate new initiatives from government and business and find out how this will drive prosperity, wellbeing and inclusive sustainable growth.

Episode 8: How to Transform Performance?

How can companies transform their business through becoming more productive? What are the things stopping us doing this? What simple practical techniques are there to restore and increase productivity? In short, what is practical productivity? Host Bart van Ark is joined by Professor Mark Logan from the University of Glasgow, formerly of Skyscanner, Professor Mark Hart, an expert in entrepreneurship, enterprise and small business from Aston University and Paul Abraham, the Managing Director and Client Partner for the Local Public Service business for Capita.

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Episode 7: Can we still measure productivity in the modern economy?

The one question anyone working on productivity issues is asked most is: how do you actually measure it? How do we count what we make? And can we capture everything needed to produce products and services? And can economists and statisticians keep up with the rapid changes in today’s modern economy? To answer these questions, host Bart van Ark is joined by Josh Martin, Head of Productivity at the Office for National Statistics, Rebecca Riley, director of the Economic Statistics Centre of Excellence and Professor of Practice at King’s Business School and Jonathan Haskel, Professor of Economics at Imperial College Business School.

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Episode 6: How can productivity create sustained growth in Northern Ireland?

This year marks the centenary of Northern Ireland’s creation. What has it done for the economy? And in particular for the productivity of its people and businesses? Has greater economic stability in the 23 years since the Good Friday agreement helped to advance productivity? And what will Brexit and the Northern Ireland protocol mean for productivity going forward? Host Bart van Ark talks to three experts on the economy, business and the political environment in the region - Dame Rotha Johnston, Professor John Turner and Dr. Esmond Birnie - about the productivity pearls and perils in Northern Ireland.

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Episode 5: Will hybrid and flexible work help or hurt productivity and well-being?

Are hybrid working models good for productivity? Do employers and employees think differently about the pros and cons? And how does flexible working affect our mental health and well-being? Is there a trade off with productivity that we need to think about? In this episode, host Bart van Ark talks to Andy Start, Executive Officer of Government Services at Capita and Professor Diane Coyle of the University of Cambridge about how the pandemic has dramatically changed the way many of us work and the positive and negative effects it’s had on personal and organisational productivity.

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Episode 4: Can levelling up raise productivity in the Northern Powerhouse?

In this episode, Professor Bart van Ark talks to Lord Jim O’Neill, Dame Nancy Rothwell & Professor Philip McCann about raising productivity in the Northern Powerhouse, a powerful concept introduced more than five years ago with the aim to rebuild a competitive economy in northern England. They discuss what it’s delivered so far, its challenges, future directions and how it contributes to the government’s levelling-up agenda.

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Episode 3: Productivity in UK health care during and after the Covid-19 pandemic

How has the pandemic impacted on the performance of the healthcare sector? Professor Bart van Ark talks to Professor Diane Coyle and Kaya M. Dreesbeimdiek from the University of Cambridge who co-authored a recent paper on the topic. They’re joined by Dr. Jennifer Dixon, chief executive of The Health Foundation, an independent charity committed to bringing about better health and health care for people in the UK. They discuss how we measure health productivity, what has happened to health productivity during the Covid-19 pandemic and ask how we rebuild a resilient health care sector to enable higher productivity in an uncertain environment.

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Episode 2: Productivity in the post Covid-19 era

Could Covid-19 be the game changer for the economy and create a true productivity miracle in the coming years? In this episode, Bart van Ark talks to Jan Mischke and Tera Allas of McKinsey about a recent report by the McKinsey Global Institute exploring whether productivity and growth will return after the Covid-19 crisis.

They discuss why businesses should focus on operational efficiency to improve productivity, how the boldest firms have emerged the strongest from the crisis and how rapid digitisation is transforming the retail and healthcare sectors.

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Episode 1: Why does productivity matter?

In this episode, Bart van Ark talks to three esteemed economists - Andy Haldane, Dame Kate Barker and Professor Nick Crafts - who explain what productivity actually is and why it matters to everyone. They discuss why UK productivity has slowed down since the 2008 financial crisis, creating a rising gap between the UK and other advanced economies in Europe. They also explain why increased productivity is important for raising living standards - drawing on lessons from the industrial revolution, how it has been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic and what critical things can be done to manage the post-crisis challenges.

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About The Productivity Institute

The Productivity Institute is a research project involving nine academic institutions across the UK, eight regional productivity forums throughout the nation, and a national independent Productivity Commission to advise policy makers at all levels of government.

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