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August 18, 2016


Chieh Yu

I'm not an economist, but surely any association between rising numbers of managers and professional and increases in productivity must have fairly hard limits? There must be some ground level production for them to meaningfully manage.

Anecdotally, it feels like we crossed the line where amount of management had any meaningful connection to what was being managed some time ago (a point that applies equally to both sides of the political spectrum).


Only in people's fevered dreams are managers more productive. If their underlings are vanishing, who is doing the underling's highly productive work? No one. The managers are doing the poor job they have always done plus they are swamped by little tasks that their underlings used to do (streamlining doesn't mean better, it just means fewer hands to the task). Then the managers' productivity falls off since they can't concentrate on what they are supposed to produce
and productivity falls off

Chris S

What if the rise in managers is a simple side effect of the rise in the impulse to make everything traceable. Both in terms of the endless metricisation of everything, and constant end to end auditing to keep everyone honest.

Dave Hansell

It would be interesting to see some detail on that graph as to what roles fall into the categories of 'professional' and 'associate professional.'

For example it seems reasonable to observe that traditionally 'professionals' have been regarded as those performing roles such as the law, education, medicine, science, journalism and so on. The question is, is it really the case that there has been an aggregate increase of over 20% in these roles and around 10% in roles associated with those professions or have other roles been given that 'status'? For example, are unqualified teaching assistants classed as professional or associate professionals in this data set?

Or how about unqualified teachers in the growing academy sector? In medicine are other groups of workers not previously considered in either one or the other of these categories being re categorised?

The questions need to be asked simply because, lawyers apart (particularly corporate lawyers), it has been my experience and observation that by and large the management movement sees professionals as just another group of workers with special interests to be managed efficiently by the only group in society who they regard as the only people with any skill, knowledge and expertise of any value, themselves.


Re Dave Hansell's question, much of the professional category is made up of IT, HR and marketing folk. Job title inflation also plays a part in both this category and that of management.

Outsourcing initially boosts productivity through reduced function costs, but this entails increased supplier/contract management. Further productivity gains tend to diminish relative to the management overhead. The Coasian extreme is a business that is 100% managers and where productivity gains regress to the mean.

Ken Houghton

"Care workers" are "unskilled"??

What colour is the sun on the planet where the U.K. resides?

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