Our Research

Productivity & innovation

Productivity is how economists measure the efficiency with which resources such as labour, capital and land are used to produce goods and services. If our productivity rises we increase the well-being of our citizens, and can better pursue social goals such as protecting the environment.


New Zealand used to have one of the highest standards of living in the world. Over the last twenty years or so, however, we have slipped and now rank around 21st in the OECD. Our productivity is higher than it was, but has not increased as quickly as other countries and our income growth has been slower. In this section we look at how New Zealand can improve its productivity and consequently its well-being.


Motu studies the sources of productivity improvement and innovation at the level of firms, industries and regions.

Our research focus

Motu’s current and recent research includes:

  • The way workers’ education and skills contribute to innovation and productivity growth in New Zealand firms.
  • The role of innovation and new technology in combatting climate change.
  • Appropriate public policy and funding strategies for encouraging research and innovation.
  • Mapping the innovation system of New Zealand using methods from network analysis, and testing how the properties of the NZ innovation network affect the performance of firms and people in New Zealand.
  • The attributes that distinguish high- and low-productivity firms in the construction sector.

Working Paper

Working Paper

Working Paper

Working Paper

Working Paper

Related Websites

Motu is a partner with Auckland University and others in Te Pūnaha Matatini, a Centre of Research Excellence funded by the Teritiary Education Commission.

Motu funded by the NZ Productivity Hub to research productivity issues using data on NZ firms from the Statistics NZ Longitudinal Business Data.


NZ Productivity Hub,

Tertiary Education Commission