The World Bank Productivity Project

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The World Bank Productivity Project seeks to bring frontier thinking on the measurement and determinants of productivity, grounded in the developing-country context, to global policy makers. Each volume in the series explores a different aspect of the topic through dialogue with academics and policy makers, and through sponsored empirical work in our client countries. The Productivity Project is an initiative of the Vice Presidency for Equitable Growth, Finance and Institutions.

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At Your Service?: The Promise of Services-Led Development

2021-09-15, Nayyar, Gaurav, Hallward-Driemeier, Mary, Davies, Elwyn

Throughout history, industrialization has been synonymous with development. However, the trend of premature deindustrialization and the spread of automation technologies associated with Industry 4.0 has raised concerns that the development model based on export-led manufacturing seen in East Asia will be harder for hitherto less industrialized countries to replicate in the future. Can services-led development be an alternative? Contrary to conventional wisdom, the features of manufacturing that were considered uniquely conducive for productivity growth - such as international trade, scale economies, inter-sectoral linkages, and innovation - are increasingly shared by the services sector. But services are not monolithic. The twin gains of productivity growth and large-scale job creation for relatively low-skilled workers are less likely to come together in any given services subsector. The promise of services-led development in the future will be strengthened to the extent that technological change reduces the trade-off between productivity and jobs, and growth opportunities in services with potential for high productivity do not depend on a manufacturing base. Considering technological change and linkages between sectors while differentiating across types of services, this book assesses the scope of a services-driven development model and policy directions that maximize its potential.

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Productivity Revisited: Shifting Paradigms in Analysis and Policy

2018-10-25, Cusolito, Ana Paula, Maloney, William F.

The stagnation of productivity in the developing world, and indeed, across the globe, over the last two decades dictates a rethinking of productivity measurement, analysis, and policy. This volume presents a 'second wave' of thinking in three key areas of productivity analysis and its implications for productivity policies. It calls into question the measurement and relevance of distortions as the primary barrier to productivity growth; urges a broader concept of firm performance that goes beyond efficiency to quality upgrading and demand expansion; and explores what it takes to generate an experimental and innovative society where entrepreneurs have the personal characteristics to identify new technologies and manage risk within an entrepreneurial ecosystem that facilitates them doing so. It also reviews arguments surrounding industrial policies. The authors argue for an integrated approach to productivity analysis that incorporates both the need to reduce economic distortions and generate the human capital capable of identifying the opportunities offered to follower countries and upgrade firm capabilities. Finally, it offers guidance on prioritizing policies when there is uncertainty around diagnostics and limited government capability.

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The Innovation Paradox: Developing-Country Capabilities and the Unrealized Promise of Technological Catch-Up

2017-10-03, Cirera, Xavier, Maloney, William F.

Since Schumpeter, economists have argued that vast productivity gains can be achieved by investing in innovation and technological catch-up. Yet, as this volume documents, developing country firms and governments invest little to realize this potential, which dwarfs international aid flows. Using new data and original analytics, the authors uncover the key to this innovation paradox in the lack of complementary physical and human capital factors, particularly firm managerial capabilities, that are needed to reap the returns to innovation investments. Hence, countries need to rebalance policy away from R&D-centered initiatives – which are likely to fail in the absence of sophisticated private sector partners – toward building firm capabilities, and embrace an expanded concept of the National Innovation System that incorporates a broader range of market and systemic failures. The authors offer guidance on how to navigate the resulting innovation policy dilemma: as the need to redress these additional failures increases with distance from the frontier, government capabilities to formulate and implement the policy mix become weaker. This book is the first volume of the World Bank Productivity Project, which seeks to bring frontier thinking on the measurement and determinants of productivity to global policy makers.