New Zealand firms: reaching for the frontier


New Zealand is facing the prospect of a significant economic shock from the spread of COVID-19. Helping more Kiwi firms reach the productivity frontier would be a valuable step towards the economy reaching its full potential once the immediate effects of COVID-19 have passed.

This inquiry investigates New Zealand’s most productive firms and how their economic performance can be maximised. The Commission is considering submissions on its issues paper, conducting research and analysis and will release a draft report in November 2020.

New Zealand firms: reaching for the frontier

NEW: The importance of boards

New Zealand boards and frontier firmsBoards with the right mix of skills and experience can help management build frontier firms.

Supported by the Institute of Directors, the Commission conducted interviews with 22 New Zealand directors to explore the role of boards in firms’ decisions to scale-up, innovate and expand overseas.

We also commissioned top international thinkers from the BRG Institute to explain exactly how boards with strong “dynamic capabilities” can help firms innovate and thrive in a challenging and deeply uncertain environment. 

Read the reports and summary here:

Webinar: our approach

WebinarThanks to all of those who joined our July webinar.

If you missed it, you can learn about the team's approach to this inquiry by downloading the presentation slides here or watching a recording of the webinar here.

The importance of New Zealand’s exporting firms

Ship leaving Port ChalmersWe commissioned research by Dr David Skilling into the role played by exporting firms in 13 small advanced economies and the types of government policies that could help these firms improve their performance.

A key message from this work was that small economies can be very successful. The small countries the report studied were generally high-performing and had better economic and social outcomes than their larger peers. Yet, the report argues, New Zealand needs to do more to create large exporting companies. Read David Skilling's report here.

New Zealand’s top 200 firms and top 10 Māori businesses

The Commission contracted Deloitte to provide analysis and insights on the characteristics of New Zealand’s largest firms. Using the Deloitte Top 200 data set and the Top 10 Māori Business Index, they reported on spatial distribution, industry distribution, ownership, revenue, assets, equity and profit of firms over 2000 to 2019. The report also includes a case study of Fisher & Paykel Healthcare. Read the Deloitte report here.

Why does this inquiry matter?

New Zealand has a longstanding problem with poor productivity, as productivity levels are well below the average of high-income OECD economies.

Despite the expectation that lower-productivity countries will absorb known technologies from leader countries, and narrow the gap with them via faster productivity growth, this has not happened in New Zealand. A sizeable productivity gap remains.

The Commission will identify policies that could deliver a sustained lift in productivity outcomes. Read our brief from the Minister of Finance here.

What's next?

A report with the Commission’s draft findings and recommendations will be released in November 2020. Submissions on the draft report will then be invited. A final report will be presented to Government in March 2021 and published on this website.