Efficiency, Efficiency, Everyhwere Efficiency: From a Linguistic Detail to a Paradigm in Organization Studies

This reflection essay is authored by Fabian Lugert and Richard Kempert, students in the master program Organization Studies at University of Innsbruck.

As students of Organization Studies, we often find ourselves in discussions, less often they get as intense as the one we had over the meaning and performativity of the word efficiency. This was challenging for us, because we constantly get confronted with the terms “efficiency”, “efficient” or “inefficient”. Subjectively perceived the word stem is used in every paper we read, which is not surprising as it is widely used and variable in its use. The most general definition of “efficiency” seems to be “doing the things right” (Drucker 1963). Other sources differ in their explanations. For example, the Cambridge Dictionary defines it as “the good use of time and energy in a way that does not waste any” (Cambridge Dictionary “Efficiency”). Another explanation provided by the dictionary: efficiency is “a situation in which a person, company, factory, etc. uses resources such as time, materials, or labor well, without wasting any” or “a situation in which a person, system, or machine works well and quickly” (Cambridge Dictionary “Efficiency”).

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