Productivity Improvement in the Private and Public Sector: Roles and Lessons from Kaizen approaches
About the Program

In partnership with the JICA Research Institute (JICA-RI), the Global Development Network will document the increase of productivity at the firm level through new managerial methods, such as Kaizen, the Japanese management approach, under a two-year collaborative research program.

The Japanese word Kaizen means change (kai) for good (zen), and encourages continuous learning and improvement. If adopted as a managerial guiding principle, Kaizen is said to lead to industrial growth and to development within both public and private sectors.

The number of empirical studies which analyze the effectiveness and/or the challenges on improving productivity through implementing different management methods, like Kaizen, remains limited in developing countries. GDN and JICA-RI aim to address this lack of contextualized knowledge on managerial capital and its interactions with policies to enhance productivity growth.

  • Mobilize local researchers to mainstream important issues linked to raising productivity (in manufacturing and beyond) in domestic debates, and lead to improved policies and managerial capacities;
  • Document existing initiatives to improve managerial capital and their effectiveness in increasing productivity at the firm level in developing countries;
  • Document the determinants of the success or failure of this initiative and their ability to lead to actual change

Research teams will study different cases to document what has been done to enrich our shared knowledge of initiatives in the public or the private sectors to boost productivity (through Kaizen activities, for example). Results will be featured in a book co-edited by Akio Hosono (JICA-RI), Go Shimada (University of Shizuoka), and John Page (Brookings Institution), and and will feed into policy discussions on managerial capacity and work systems, as well as on the social structures needed to boost economic growth. Read more about the book's co-editors here.

“After years of experience with Kaizen across the world, it will be good to know how it works to improve quality and productivity and to effectively achieve inclusive, innovative and sustainable growth, and in what circumstances.”

- Naohiro Kitano, Director of the JICA Research Institute

The JICA Research Institute creates opportunities for dialogue between researchers and practitioners so that ground-breaking research findings can be delivered to the international community.

For more information, please contact Pierre Bertrand, Senior Program Associate.


Reconsidering Productivity for Inclusive Development by Pierre Bertrand, Senior Program Associate, GDN, in CFO Connect