Critical Reasoning Question 10-Increasing productivity

Techniques to increase productivity in the performance of discrete tasks, by requiring less human labor in each step of the production process, are widely utilized.  consultant on productivity enhancement point out, however, that although these techniques achieve their specific goal, they are not without drawbacks.  They often instill enough resentment in the workforce eventually to lead to a slowdown in the production process as a whole.

Which of the following can be reasonably inferred from the statements above?

A. Productivity enhancement techniques do not attain their intended purpose and should not be employed in the workplace.

B.  The fact that productivity enhancement techniques are so widely employed has led to a decline in the ability of American businesses to compete abroad.

C.  If productivity enhancement consultants continue to utilize these techniques, complete work stoppages will eventually result.

D.  Ironically, an increase in the productivity of discrete tasks may result in a decrease in the productivity of the whole production process.

E.  Production managers are dissatisfied with the efforts that productivity enhancement consultants have made to increase productivity.

Think you know the answer?


The correct answer is D.

Here the author presents the consultants’ ideas.  Notice the paragraph uses words like often and slowdown.  The correct response should not go beyond such terminology.  Consultants’ conclusion:  Techniques to increase productivity of discrete tasks have drawbacks, even though they accomplish their specific goals.  Consultants’ evidence:  They often instill enough resentment to lead to a slowdown in the production process as a whole.

(A) is too sweeping a generalization, an unwarranted inference about productivity enhancement techniques.  Do these techniques never work?  (B) is even further out.  Nowhere does the information imply that America is less competitive abroad than before.  Since no geographic location is mentioned, this data could have originated in Europe.  (C) projects into the future, to an extreme result.  All we’re told is that sometimes these techniques lead to a slowdown in the production process.  (D) uses similar language (and tone) to the original paragraph and remains in scope without bringing in additional information.  It is an accurate summary of the text.  (E) can almost be disqualified after the first few words.  Though it picks up on the negative aspects of productivity enhancement, we can infer nothing about production managers since they are never mentioned.  In fact, many production managers may be ecstatic about the efforts that did pay off.

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