Re: [OPE] Intellectual property rights (reply to Michael Perelman)

From: Gerald Levy (
Date: Mon Jun 02 2008 - 14:09:58 EDT

> I ought to read more of your books because I am still puzzled by the whole concept 
> of "productivity" in all its facets. The problem you see is that Kuznets wrote in the 
> 1930s-1960s but this is the 21st century and we badly need new concepts.

Hi Jurriaan:

Yes, but there _is_ a quite extensive literature (primarily) in mainstream 
economics since the 60's about issues in productivity measurement.
Other than issues associated with intellectual property rights, there have
been lively debates about measuring productivity in the service sectors
of the economy including (but not limited to) public employees. Much of
this literature is from the 1970s - so already is rather old.

You might ask why its important to measure the productivity of
labor of public employees?  Well, it's important from the perspective 
of the state because of ongoing efforts to increase public employee
productivity through increasing labor intensity.  

Productivity statistics are also used in negotiations with trade unions 
in the private sector and unions are hit over the head with them and 
(especially in the 1980's) told that they must make 'concessions' so that  
firms can maintain 'competitiveness' (another buzzword from the 80's and 
since). This requires that economists employed by unions get their hands 
dirty digging into the numbers and how they are calculated.  I would 
say, in general, that any numbers on productivity released by 
corporations, corporate think-tanks, and manufacturers associations
should be treasted with a high degree of scepticism.  

In solidarity, Jerry

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