2019 Annual Conference of the Global Forum on Productivity
20-21 June 2019 Sydney, Australia
The OECD Global Forum on Productivity (GFP) and the Australian Treasury as well as Department of Industry, Innovation and Science jointly organised the 4th Annual Conference of the Global Forum on Productivity on 20-21 June 2019 in Sydney, Australia.
This conference gathered leading academics and national and international policy experts and practitioners to discuss the challenges in creating the right conditions for high productivity and wage growth in a period of rapid technological change. Particular focus was given to the role of human capabilities, social and geographical mobility, and business dynamism for firm performance.
BACKGROUND AND MOTIVATION
The challenge of rapid technological change
Technological change is the main driver of improvements in productivity. Yet, the unprecedented technological advancements made during the past few years have not been reflected in widespread productivity improvements – instead productivity growth was sluggish, differences in performance across firms and workers increased, and market dynamism declined. Why does rapid technological change not translate into high, broad-based productivity and wage growth? One answer accounting for these trends is that, although the scope for productivity improvements has increased substantially, some firms and workers currently lack the capacities to benefit from these opportunities.
How can technological change benefit everyone?
Low productivity growth and increasing performance differences may reflect economies being in a transition period, where implementing new technologies requires expensive complementary investments by firms that slow down diffusion. Investments in human capabilities – including entrepreneurism, managerial practices and workforce skills – may be required to support a more complete diffusion of technologies across firms. The successful implementation of new technologies also depends on the firm’s environment. Dynamic and competitive markets provide incentives for technology adoption and allocate resources efficiently. Fluid labour markets, also in terms of social and geographical worker mobility, incentivize workers to invest in human capabilities and allow firms ready access to the required skills.
What is the role for policies?
Policies can play an important role in fostering the accumulation of human capabilities, supporting worker mobility, and creating a level playing field for firms, altogether assuring that workers possess the skills they need to succeed and employers get ready access to the right workers.
Further scope for improving the effectiveness of policies in achieving these aims exists by analysing existing evidence using micro-data, especially longitudinal linked employer-employee data.