World Productivity Congress

Date: 26th-30th September 1977

The Congress attracted a very large participation from countries both from the west and the east and the Oceana Region, important among these being the USA, CANADA, the U.K., JAPAN, INDIA, MALASIYA, SINGAPORE, PHILLIPINES, INDONESIA, and NEW ZEALAND.

Funding assistance towards the travel of delegates from the Commonwealth countries was provided by the Commonwealth Secretariat in UK. The total number of delegates including foreign delegates was registered at 384, along with observers from professional bodies.

The galaxy of speakers besides the Inaugural address by Dr Krish Pennathur, President, WCPS, comprised the following:

  1. Dr James L. Riggs USA
  2. Dr H. K. Wilson USA
  3. Mr. R. N. Osborn USA
  4. Mr. Samy E. G. Elias USA
  5. Mr. J. Rives CANADA
  6. Mr. K. Haganas NORWAY
  7. Mr. Shigeyaso Sakamoto JAPAN

The Commonwealth Secretariat was thanked for providing funding assistance to the speakers and delegates from Commonwealth countries.

Dr. William Worrall, the Vice-President representing the host country Australia Stated:

“In organizing the World Productivity Congress in Australia, we are conscious of the importance of productivity to our individual and national progress. We are also conscious of the smallness of our population compared with countries such as India which hosted the first World Congress in Bombay in December 1973.

Australia, however, can match other countries in its standards of life, its natural beauty and natural resources. For us to meet the challenge of supplying the world markets with our abundant resources and to enable us to develop sufficient secondary and tertiary industries, we need to apply the best productivity improvement techniques.

The Congress Organising Committee is pleased at the wonderful response to our invitation to submit papers, some of which you will hear at the congress. Unfortunately, many authors were unable to raise the funds to make it possible for them to deliver their papers personally.

We thank those who have given us their time, knowledge and experience by presenting papers and particularly those individuals who have covered their expenses out of their own pocket.

The congress would not have been possible without the assistance of those individuals who worked so hard as members of the organizing committee. I thank them.

Behind these people are the host organisations:
The Institute of Industrial Engineers, Productivity Promotion Council of Australia, Australian Computer Society, The World Confederation of Productivity Science, Pacific Asia Federation of Industrial Engineers.

We also wish to thank organisations which gave financial assistance to sponsor the Congress and selected speakers. These are:

  • Hoover Australia Ltd
  • Outboard Marine Australia
  • Australia Oil Refineries
  • John Lysaght
  • Australian Chapter of the M.T.M. Association
  • B.H.P
  • General Motors Holden

We have decided to issue abstracts of all papers which were available at the time of going to press. For those who require the full texts, orders can be placed with the Conference Manager.

Finally, the success of this congress has been due to the speakers, the organising committee, and the Publishing Advisory Service of the N.S.W. Department of Services, which in co-operation with the Hilton Hotel management staff, were responsible for its organisation. “

Presidential Address By Dr. Krish Pennathur

“I deem it my privilege of conveying to you the greetings of the productivity fraternity in India and the good wishes of the Prime Minister of India, who, over a decade ago, was the President of the Institution of Work Study (India). He sends you all his warmest personal regards and wishes this congress all success.

The profundity of productivity is not intended as an academic dissertation. The aim is to bring to light the covert importance of very term productivity, showing what a rough diamond it has been so far and that we could now press the new facets of the philosophy, concepts, principles and practices of productivity into service organisations for national and international betterment.

It is over two decades since the concept of productivity has permeated the comity of nations, both ‘developed’ and ‘developing’. It is nine years now since the idea of a World Confederation of Productivity Institutions of various countries was thought of and yet, I find to this day that understanding of the encompassment of the term productivity is confined to a couple of variants, even among erudite and experienced managers and administrators. Some aver that it stands for the optimum use of men and machinery. A few others, who step an inch beyond, describe it as the ratio of output to input. The refinement in this case is that the term ‘input’ is not confined to men and machine only but embraces materials, space and buildings. Invariably the yardstick for the measure of productivity is labour productivity.

Let me outline the facets of productivity we have been shutting our eyes to, either through inability to convince the powers that be, or through a facile acquiescence to the ground floor role of productivity. These are, in the order of increasing importance: Productivity of Management; Productivity of Technology; Productivity of Capital; Productivity of the strategies and policies of government. I am fully conscious of the fact that I am treading on very delicate grounds. But then, it is high time someone spelled out the facts of productivity life. Let me bell the cat rather than go with the crowd admiring the emperor’s clothes.

It might be considered impertinence, in the elite clubs of managers, to mention the subject of managerial productivity. They are the managers of real resources and the measure of the output-input ratio automatically reflects their contribution of productivity. They even have a system of performance appraisal for managers, assessing this very aspect. The fallacy in this escapism is that the assent is once again on the efficiency at operational level and not on the effectiveness of the managerial decisions.

These decisions pertain to forecasting, goal setting, objectives formulation, corporate planning, organization of facilities, approaches to motivation and job involvement, co-ordination and control and flexibility of decisions contingent on political, social, economic, technological and environment changes. The measure of managerial productivity is the measure of their effectiveness in these areas.

The assessment of managerial productivity, after it is conceded that it should be done, is hampered by the ingenious assumption that the factors contributing to the effectiveness of managers as a whole are the same, whatever is the level of managerial hierarchy. As the authority and responsibilities increase in ascension towards the top of the managerial pyramid, predominates, extra-organizational interaction increase while day-to-day work and short-term issues need to be given lesser attention. At least, this is how it should be if managers have the gumption to assume their rightful roles.

I would now like to take up the topic of productivity of technology. Slogans like ‘Produce more’ or ‘Produce or Perish’ by themselves are fatuous. There are a number of questions that need to be asked before we can identify the causes of the economic ills of a country and prescribe that right remedy. What are we going to produce and for whom are we going to produce? What is the level of saturation in the domestic market and what is the potential for export? What is the cost of production and how does it compare with the competitors, both national and international? How do our products and services dovetail into the national economic plans? The answers to these and many more questions would be predicted upon the state of technological development of the concerned country.

It is probably temerarious on my part to speak about productivity of government strategies and policies, while the Honorable Minister and members of the state and federal government are present. Nevertheless, it is a fact that all our exercises in the areas of productivity I had outlined would be totally negated if the strategies and policies of the government do not foster, nurse and encourage the growth of national productivity. Nothing is farther from my intention that to classify politics alongside `statistics’ and `economics’. But it is a fact of democratic life that governmental plans and policies are based on the election manifesto of the political party that has come into power. Not all the strategies and policies are in the best interests of the nation’s total productivity. Also, some of the undertakings pledged in the election manifesto get diluted or even eroded during the process of governing.

Among the various points that have been engaging my attention with regard to productivity, I wish to highlight four very briefly. Firstly, one detects sings of ‘male chauvinism’ In the productivity movement and activities. We appear to think that only men need to be exercised over productivity. Without waiting for any census figures, we may reasonably assume that 50% of humanity represents women. They have a great potential for making a contribution to increased productivity, in fact, a much greater potential for making a contribution to increased productivity, a much greater potential than we men have. They control the purse strings and, in the aggregate,, it can be said that they control the family budgets of the majority of the households in any country. They wield an overt or a covert influence over habits, attitudes and thinking of their husbands.

They have a tremendous influence over the shaping of the minds of their children. Why is it that we have not enlisted the active support of women in furthering the cause of higher productivity? Secondly, productivity is not a subject to be taught when a person has reached the age of twenty-five years or over. Yet this is what happens today. The principles and practice of religion, the essence of the culture and heritage of the society and the norms of morality and codes of conduct are inculcated among the children from the time they evince interest in listening to stories and fairy tales. They learn at the age of five or so. Why is it, then that the concept of productivity, which is a way of life, is not imparted to them from their early childhood? As a modest beginning, I have published the first of a series of children’s story books, with the principles of productivity woven into them. This is only a beginning and I hope that within a year or two, the books in this series are prescribed reading at the elementary school stage.

Thirdly, the practice of productivity has not spread very far beyond the manufacturing industries. You may be interested to learn that in India we have started it in the spheres of agriculture, fisheries, mining, mass transit systems, airlines, urban development, municipal (civic) administration, general hospitals, the film industry, Central Social Welfare Board, the Fine Arts Academy, hotel management, and university administration etc.

Lastly, productivity science is a function of the people, of the society, of the masses. It is the people who are the instruments of change. Productivity practitioners are mere catalysts. The foundation of productivity is the art of influencing human behavior for the common good of society. Techniques are merely the super-structure of productivity.”