Centre for Productivity and Efficiency

We are devoted to researching the measurement, analysis, management and improvement of productivity.

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About this Centre

With productivity flat-lining in the UK since the recession in 2008/09, ranking us fifth out of the G7 leading industrial nations, there is a real need to understand this phenomenon.

Improved productivity, a measure of the output produced, either per worker, or per labour hour, can lead to better wages, living standards and public finances. So it is critical to society’s wellbeing.

We believe the true nature of productivity and efficiency can only be understood by bringing together all the LUMS disciplines and departments, an approach that is unique to us. We also work as part of a thriving international research community which bring many perspectives to this fascinating area of study.

This Centre considers productivity and efficiency from multiple perspectives; from economics, operations and supply chain management to entrepreneurship, work and employment studies, accounting and strategy. We also consider it from the level of the individual manager or employee, to the successively larger scales of firms, supply chains, sectors and localities.

Our work is funded from a number of sources, including the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, the ESRC, the British Academy and the European Commission. And we co-produce research with various stakeholders in business, government and civil society. We also link our research to LUMS management development programmes, and to the Work Foundation’s programme of applied research, in order to maximise impact.

Our Mission

Weak productivity growth is one of the defining characteristics of the UK’s economic performance over the last decade. It is our mission to be at the forefront of understanding this productivity puzzle, through a multi-disciplinary and internationally collaborative approach.

Our Research Themes

Our research reflects our areas of expertise and addresses particular productivity challenges. Several of the themes are especially relevant to the management and policy issues related to SMEs, which is a traditional area of expertise within the School. We also work with corporate and public sector partners, and advise the Government on a wide range of productivity-related issues.

Visit our publications to view the research produced by this centre.

Technology Adoption and Productivity

The wider adoption of advanced digital technology is essential to productivity improvement in many sectors and contexts. Centre members are working on several projects in this area.

They include:

  • an ESRC-funded project, on the adoption of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in mid-tier law and accounting firms, which seeks to understand how firms in these world-leading sectors can take advantage of the potential of AI in improving productivity and innovating business models.
  • the adoption of ‘Industry 4.0’ by smaller firms is a dominant global policy theme: we are working on a project with the University of South Australia and the South Australia Department for Industry and Skills to study the transition to intelligent manufacturing in South Australian SMEs. This complements our research in support of the North West pilot of the ‘Made Smarter’ initiative to enable adoption of industrial digitalisation by manufacturing SMEs.

Industrial Policy

Centre staff are making a sustained contribution to the development of industrial strategy or industrial policy in the UK and elsewhere. For instance we have examined the links between economic insights at policy level, and management insights at organisational level and we made policy contributions to the:

  • UK GO-Science Foresight ‘Future of Manufacturing’ study;
  • the development of the UK Government’s 2017 Industrial Strategy;
  • the 2018-19 ‘long tail review’ of productivity;
  • the development of ‘place-based’ industrial strategy, and subsequently to the Industrial Strategy Council, the body charged with monitoring Industrial Strategy delivery.

Follow these links for more information:


Management Practices, Capabilities and Talent

The wider adoption of advanced digital technology is essential to productivity improvement in many sectors and contexts. Centre members are working on several projects in this area.

Our research in this area includes a study to understand the appropriateness of structured performance management practices in the smaller firm (funded by the ESRC-backed Productivity Insights Network). Some of the work builds on previous research by the Centre for Performance-Led HR, once a world-leading centre of applied research into human resources. This Centre delivered vital research that continues to have significant impact, for example in the work conducted with the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) on novel approaches to valuing talent. Current research is examining the impact of higher education in general, and Level 7 apprenticeships in particular, on graduate employment and productivity.


SME and Supply Chain Productivity

Productivity is typically measured at firm level, but it is also the outcome of activities in supply chains, networks and ecosystems. Centre researchers use a variety of approaches and techniques to understand productive and entrepreneurial activity in networks, rooted in specific places.

Work on entrepreneurial activity in networks and ecosystems builds on the School’s extensive work with regional SMEs over a period of twenty years, for example the £32 million Wave 2 Growth Hubs programme. Recent and current studies continue to focus on the regeneration of excluded communities and economies, and the role of local innovation hubs in encouraging entrepreneurs from minority groups. Supply chain research examines resilience and risk in supply chains, drawing on research in various international contexts to develop general insights into these increasingly important, network-level phenomena.



The concepts of productivity and efficiency focus on the mapping of inputs onto outputs. In evaluating efficiency, this mapping is compared to some ideal – often best observed practice.

Our work in this area uses both the statistical method of stochastic frontier analysis and the non-parametric approach of data envelopment analysis. Current and recent work in the centre includes both methodological developments and applied projects. Methodological developments include:

Data List

Innovation, Productivity and Growth

Productivity improvements often arise from innovation of one form or another, and are often accompanied by growth. We examine the processes of innovation, and ways to stimulate, value and promote innovation-led productivity and growth.

Recent research has examined the role of targeted initiatives in public procurement – notably in the National Health Service and the Ministry of Defence - in stimulating and supporting innovation in SMEs. Several projects have examined the management practices required for the valuation of innovation, particularly in early-stage commercialisation in catalysts linked to bioscience and in novel energy systems, where new markets are being made. A current European-funded project called “I AM RRI”, focusses on innovation value chains in Additive Manufacturing, and how innovation can be conducted in line with the principle of Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI). Further funded research is seeking to understand the relationship between past growth and future growth at firm level.

Funding source

EU the Grant Agreement number No. 788361

People working

Latest Updates

Discover the latest updates from this Centre including our latest research papers, news, events and blogs. For past events, please visit our Events Archive.


LUMS to help deliver £3m Government-commissioned research

Lancaster University Management School will help deliver a major new research project to help mid-sized law and accountancy firms adopt artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies to improve productivity and develop new business models. This project presents a tremendous opportunity to make a real impact on a vital and potentially world-leading sector of the UK economy. It will also show how the deeply engaged, multi-disciplinary ethos of our Centre for Productivity & Efficiency can be harnessed to tackle society’s grand challenges, based on excellent scholarship and research.

£3m research Investment

Research showcased at Parliamentary event

The Centre for Productivity and Efficiency was part of an event where Lancaster University took its world-leading research and business engagement programmes to the heart of Government. University representatives met with MPs and industry leaders at an event showcasing Lancaster’s crucial role in addressing the UK’s Industrial Strategy, held at the Houses of Parliament. SME leaders who have benefitted from the business support offered by Lancaster University were also in attendance, offering their personal stories about how engaging with the institution helped transform their organisations.

Parliamentary Event
NHS logo on ipad screen

Innovation Agency helping to bring more small businesses into NHS fold

The Innovation Agency is successfully supporting small businesses to make inroads into the NHS market, according to a report. However, innovative small businesses continue to face obstacles in bringing their products and technologies to the NHS, despite the best efforts of programmes designed to help them.

Read full news story



Centre Director

Martin Spring

Professor Martin Spring

Professor of Operations Management

Centre for Productivity & Efficiency, Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport in the UK , Supply Chain Management

D39, D - Floor, Charles Carter Building

Centre Administrator

Teresa Aldren

Teresa Aldren

Research Enhancement and Centres Administrator

Centre for Consumption Insights, Centre for Family Business, Centre for Financial Econometrics, Asset Markets and Macroeconomic Policy, Centre for Health Futures, Centre for Marketing Analytics & Forecasting, Centre for Productivity & Efficiency, Centre for Scholarship and Innovation in Management Education, Centre for Technological Futures , Centre for Transport & Logistics (CENTRAL)

+44 (0)7540 302028 B204, B - Floor, Management School


Aaron Anvuur

Dr Aaron Anvuur

Associate Professor in Project and Supply Chain Management

Centre for Productivity & Efficiency, Pentland Centre, Supply Chain Management

Nhu Quynh Do

Dr Nhu Quynh Do

International Lecturer (Assistant Professor) in Logistics and Supply Chain Management

Centre for Productivity & Efficiency, Pentland Centre, Supply Chain Management

Stephen Eldridge

Professor Stephen Eldridge

Professor in Operations Management, Head of Department

Centre for Productivity & Efficiency, Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport in the UK , Supply Chain Management

D12b, D - Floor, Charles Carter Building
Yiyi Fan

Dr Yiyi Fan

Lecturer in Operations Management and Information Systems

Centre for Productivity & Efficiency, Centre for Technological Futures , Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport in the UK , Supply Chain Management

D34, D - Floor, Charles Carter Building
Chris Ford

Dr Chris Ford

Senior Lecturer in Accounting & Management

Centre for Productivity & Efficiency, Corporate Governance and Auditing, Pentland Centre

Mark Freel

Centre for Productivity & Efficiency, Entrepreneurship and Innovation

Alan Hughes

Professor Alan Hughes

Visiting Professor

Centre for Productivity & Efficiency

Anas Iftikhar

Dr Anas Iftikhar

International Lecturer (Assistant Professor) in Logistics and Supply Chain Management

Centre for Productivity & Efficiency, Supply Chain Management

Hannah Jackson

Hannah Jackson

PhD student

Centre for Productivity & Efficiency

WP E063, E - Floor, Management School
Katy Mason

Professor Katy Mason

Professor of Markets, Marketing and Management

CeMoRe - Centre for Mobilities Research, Centre for Health Futures, Networks, Knowledge and Strategy, Pentland Centre

WP C010, C - Floor, Management School
Kostas Selviaridis

Centre for Health Futures, Centre for Productivity & Efficiency, Centre for Transport & Logistics (CENTRAL), Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport in the UK , Health Systems, Pentland Centre, Supply Chain Management

D39, D - Floor, Charles Carter Building
Mark Stevenson

Professor Mark Stevenson

Cross-Faculty Associate Dean Global Engagement & Professor of Operations Management

Centre for Productivity & Efficiency, Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport in the UK , Pentland Centre, Supply Chain Management

D11, D - Floor, Charles Carter Building
Ian Walker

Centre for Productivity & Efficiency, DSI - Society, Economics Research Group, Gulf One Lancaster Centre for Economic Research, Labour, Education and Health Economics