National Productivity Week 27th January 2025 | Visit Website

A diverse community of
leading experts, policymakers
and practitioners

The Institute’s key research themes
are led by ten academic partners
spread across the UK.

We’re a UK-wide research
organisation exploring what
productivity means for business

Businesses are crucial to solving
the UK’s productivity problems.

Funding call for research proposals to better understand business leader decision making around productivity

The Productivity Institute is inviting research proposals to help better understand strategic approaches adopted by organisations to improve productivity.

Applications are welcome from researchers based at any UK university or independent research organisations with the UK. Researchers can be partnered with any UK-based business or UK sites of international business or UK charities. The proposed research must relate to the investment decision making and business planning process within UK firms- at a functional level (HR, Marketing, IT, Operations, Finance).

More detail on the call and the application process can be found on the TPI website.

Applications close on Monday, 10 April. More specifically, the key research questions for this call are:

  • What key aspects of performance drive productivity within one specific or multiple functions, such as Marketing, Operations, Finance, HR, IT etc.? How is productivity reflected in decision making at the functional level?
  • How do these functional aspects of productivity feed into planning and strategy at the organisational level?
  • More specifically we want to understand:

How do business leaders make decisions around investment and activity on five key productivity drivers (listed below)?

  • How do they engage in strategic planning and decision making for productivity?
  • Where are the barriers and blockages to make or implement decisions to improve productivity, and how are they being addressed?
  • How productivity is included in strategic planning?
  • How do different functional leaders address productivity in their strategic planning?

The five productivity drivers according to research by The Productivity Institute are:

  1.  Innovation and digital adoption
  2.  Worker skills, engagement and well-being
  3.  Management competencies
  4.  Access to finance and cost savings
  5.  Marketing and communication

We are particularly interested in proposal to understand the actions and behaviours of senior leaders in one or more the following functions

  • Digital / IT / Technology
  • Finance
  • HR / People & Organisational Development
  • Marketing
  • Operations

We also invite proposals that focus on how the functional insights on productivity are brought together and made operational for strategic planning and decision-making by the Executive Leadership Team led by the General Manager or CEO.


Although research shows some examples of firms explicitly addressing productivity, it often is not recognised as a key driver of sustained business growth; let alone that businesses recognise their productivity performance is critical to the economic health of their local area and the nation as a whole.

A typical scenario is that firms track and manage other key performance indicators (KPIs) such as efficiency, profits and margins, employee engagement, customer satisfaction and brand impact. However, the link between those KPIs and productivity is often not very well understood. As a result, the executive leadership team and/or Board of organisation fail to explicitly address productivity as part of their strategy.

The Productivity Institute is undertaking a multi-year research project to help executives better understand how their actions feed into productivity, both at a functional level and at an organisational level. For a preliminary report, read Strategic Productivity for the Leadership Team.