Murdoch researchers discover keys to productivity and innovation in Singapore manufacturing industry

November 28, 2014

Research into the Singapore manufacturing industry by MurdochA small team of Murdoch University researchers have completed a ground-breaking study into productivity and innovation among small to medium enterprises (SMEs) in the Singapore manufacturing industry.

The study, funded through a grant from the Singapore Innovation and Productivity Institute, interviewed leaders and managers from 220 SMEs in Singapore in addition to 28 global academic and industry experts.

Chief Investigators from the University including Professor Peter McKiernan, Dr Chris Vas, Research Fellow Azad Singh Bali and Associate Professor Peter Waring identified six key drivers to achieving Total Factor Productivity in the Singapore Manufacturing sector, including:

  1. Technology and Capital Utilisation
  2. Pay and Performance Management
  3. Training, Development & Organisational Learning
  4. Innovation Culture
  5. Government Policy and Market Access
  6. Leadership and Management Quality

The study also investigated the challenges faced by local SMEs, including concerns that the sector is unable to attract the next generation of leaders in manufacturing, low investment in training and skill development, and an increase in labour costs exceeding growth in labour productivity.

“The results of the study will serve to inform SME leaders and policy makers alike on the key areas that they need to address to drive productivity and innovation,” said Professor Peter McKiernan.

“While productivity enhancement initiatives and grant schemes funded by the Singapore Government were considered by SMEs to be helpful, one interviewee succinctly expressed a sector-wide sentiment that the keys to productivity and innovation are in the workplace itself.

“These findings point strongly to an acute need for focused management education across the manufacturing sector.”

Data from the study will now be used in a web-based benchmarking tool which will allow SMEs across Singapore’s manufacturing sector to compare their performance across the six key drivers over time and against their sub-sector.

Singapore Dean and member of the research team, Associate Professor Peter Waring believes the study is a strong start to supporting Murdoch’s research efforts in Singapore.

“Murdoch has one of the largest student cohorts in Singapore, and through research like this is now actively contributing to the prosperity of Singapore society.”

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