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The influence of plants on productivity - a critical assessment of research findings and test methods

September 2010 | Iris Bakker, Theo van der Voordt

This  paper from the journal Facilities aims to review available research into the impact of plants on people and labour productivity in order to test a number of hypotheses and the reliability and validity of “evidence based” statements. An   extended literature review was conducted of research concerning the potential impacts of plants on people and labour productivity. In order to be able to compare the findings of different researchers, an analysis was made of similarities and dissimilarities with regard to the research context, starting-points and test methods.


The paper identifies a lack of precise descriptions of the research design and poor comparability between different research with regard to the characteristics of the plant, test persons, test procedures, surrounding conditions and contents of the reports. Although it can be concluded that plants can have a positive impact on the productivity of  human beings, it is remarkable that in research reports and research papers the properties of the plant itself are only mentioned by exception. The condition of the plant – whether it is healthy or not – is not described at all. The findings can be used by managers to legitimate investments in plants and by researchers to improve (the comparability of) research into plants.