Efficiency and Effectiveness = Productivity

Efficiency and Effectiveness = Productivity
By Willie Maartens
Rated "G" by the Author.
Last edited: Tuesday, January 15, 2008
Posted: Saturday, July 14, 2007
Productivity, Efficiency, and Effectiveness. What is the diference?
Have you ever wondered why some business organisations, countries or people are very successful,
some only moderately, or even marginally so, while still others fail altogether?
The answer lies in an organisational equivalent of the biological concept of the “survival of the fittest,”
which could be stated as follows: “Over the long run, only those countries, organisations or people
survive that serve the needs of their societies, and the world in general, ‘effectively’ and ‘efficiently’,
that is, that provide the benefits demanded by their customers or clients at prices sufficient to cover
the costs incurred in producing them." Economic institutions, and especially business organisations,
reflect this concept very clearly.
Businesses survive only so long as they produce goods and supply services that generate revenues
exceeding costs incurred in producing them, that is, only so long as the provide a surplus (i.e. profit).
Unlike living things, however, organisations, including businesses, can plan and implement changes in
their fundamental character and structure, although clearly not all do so. Such changes can be of two
types, namely:
• those that affect the relationship between the organisation and its environment, and
• those that affect the internal structure and operating activities of the organisation.
Typically, environmentally related changes affect the organisation’s effectiveness to a greater degree
than internally oriented changes, which usually have greater influence on its efficiency. Peter Drucker
stated this eloquently when he suggested that it is more important to do the right things(improve
effectiveness) than to do things right (improve efficiency).
In General Systems Theory, effectiveness is defined as the degree to which the actual outputs of the
system corresponds to its desired or planned outputs, while efficiency is defined as the ratio of actual
outputs to actual inputs, that is:
• Effectiveness = Actual Outputs (U) / Desired Outputs (U*), and
• Efficiency = Actual Outputs (U) / Actual Inputs (I).
Productivity then is a combination of Effectiveness and Efficiency.
Productivity, in the economic sciences, is measured by the ratio of what was produced (or sold) to
what was required to produce (or sell) it measured in physical units, or at constant prices (this is an
efficiency ratio, i.e. productive efficiency!). Usually this ratio is in the form of an average and is
expressed as a percentage (i.e. average productivity).
The total output of some category of goods and/or services is divided by the total input of, say labour,
capital and/or materials. In principle any input, or combination of inputs, can be used in the
denominator of the productivity ratio.
Thus, one can speak of the productivity of land, labour, capital, any sub-categories, or combination of
any of these factors of production, i.e. one may speak of the productivity of a certain type of fuel or raw
material or may combine inputs to determine the productivity of labour, capital, materials, or total
Productivity can also be expressed as the change in output divided by the change in input (i.e.
marginal productivity).
The term output includes all goods and services (products) that meet human needs. In other words,
not only the yield of industrial and agricultural products, but also the rendering of services by medical
practitioners, teachers, retailers, office workers, government departments, transport, etc.
Output may be expressed either in physical units or in money terms, depending on circumstances, i.e.:
V(Utt) = Q(Ut) X P(Ut), or value equals quantity times price per unit. Where, V = value in monetary
terms, Q = quantity in physical terms, P = price per unit, U = Output, and t = the time period.
Input involves the use and application of materials, labour, land, energy, and capital goods (assetsmachinery, tools, facilities, equipment), etc. Input may also be expressed either in physical units or in
money terms, depending on circumstances, i.e.: V(itt) = Q(it) X P(it), or value equals quantity times
price per unit. Where, i = an individual input. I = a combination of inputs.
And productivity can now be expressed as V(Utt) / V(itt) = Q(Ut) / O(it) X P(Ut) / P(it), or Productivity =
Efficiency x Price Recovery, for a certain time period (t).
Productivity is often expressed in physical units such as m^2 of a product produced per man-hour,
tonnes of casting per production-hour, standard units produced per machine-hour, etc. But productivity
can also be expressed in real money terms, i.e. at constant prices:
V(in0) = Q(in) x P(i0) … where n = the review period, and 0 = the reference period. The value in the
period ‘n’ is now expressed in terms of the price in period ‘0’.
It is important two remember two facts, namely:
• Productivity is not production. The former is the quotient of output over input quantities, while the
latter expresses the quantity of output only.
• Productivity does not refer to labour only. Labour is only one of the resources that are used in the
production process. Where production does not only mean manufacturing, but any process where a
product or service is produced.
In practice it is customary to indicate the relationship between the output and the input of a single
factor of production – whether it be labour, materials or capital. This relationship is simpler to
determine than total or multi-input productivity measures and is termed partial productivity
The partial output-input ratio is applicable to both the values of outputs and inputs (preferably at
constant prices), and physical outputs and inputs, that is four possible configurations.
Multi-input productivity index numbers are also known as total-factor productivity or net output
measures. These measures are based upon net output (value added, profit, etc.) rather than the more
common gross output (production/sales).
Value added can be defined as gross output minus the cost of such brought-out production goods as
materials (raw materials, packaging, consumables, energy, etc.), components, and so on.
If the relationship between total output and individual input is used as a yardstick for productivity, the
result may be biased.
Comparisons of input and sales figures can also be misleading, since the selling price has to be
sufficient to recover the cost of the raw materials and indirect materials purchased, as well as services
rendered by third parties.
The purchase price, on the other hand, includes the profits of the suppliers. To obviate this type of
inaccuracy in measuring productivity — especially in firms where the materials consumed and the
services rendered by third parties are a major component of the output — the value added (net output)
of a firm is compared with the input.
The value added represents only the value added to raw materials by the production and marketing
processes of an organisation.
This should give a better indication why certain businesses are more successful than other, and how a
business can become even more competitive.