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ANU Crawford School of Public Policy

Understanding productivity performance and trends

One-day short course


7th July 2016


ANU Crawford School of Public Policy



This course will help you to understand productivity, interpret productivity trends and appreciate what can be done to improve national productivity performance.

Course overview


Although productivity is a much-discussed topic, it is not widely understood. Much of the public debate generates heat rather than light. This course aims to do the opposite — provide insight into productivity trends and issues, especially from a policy point of view.

The course starts with some of the basics including:

  • What is productivity?
  • Why does it matter for Australians?
  • How important is it as a policy objective? What are the trade-offs with other objectives?

It then outlines how national and industry productivity is measured. This provides a foundation for a review of trends from national, industry and international perspectives.

The third part of the course presents a number of case studies of factors that have had a major influence on Australia’s productivity trends — the IT boom, the mining boom and structural changes in the utilities industries. The fourth and final part focuses on what can be done about productivity in the 21st century. It provides general frameworks that can be used to assess various positions in policy debates and the likely effectiveness of policy proposals.

Course convenor

Mr Dean Parham

Dean Parham is a productivity expert, long associated with the Productivity Commission in Australia. He led the Productivity Commission’s ‘flagship’ program of research on productivity for over a decade and, since 2008, has continued to investigate productivity trends and issues in association with a number of government, academic and private-sector agencies. These have included the Australian Treasury, the University of Adelaide, the Australian Business Foundation, the Bureau of Resource and Energy Economics, The Australian National University and back at the Australian Productivity Commission as a visiting researcher. He is currently a visiting research fellow with the University of Adelaide and a visiting scholar with the New Zealand Productivity Commission.

Course date:9.30am–4.30pm 7 July 2016
Venue: Crawford School, ANU
Enrol: T 02 6125 2154 E
Cost: $1,100 GST incl; Group discounts applicable

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