This paper seeks to address the problem of decreasing productivity in complex global organisations. Referring to economic and psychosocial theory and practice, we suggest that the causes of productivity slowdown fall into two interdependent groups: the difficulty of achieving effective resource allocation because of size and complexity, and the distorting factors of human beings working together in large groups. A case study drawn from recent experience in leading companies of the pharmaceutical industry illustrates the point and shows how practical solutions can be formulated. The paper concludes by suggesting that the judicious use of minimal interventions through 'quantum groups' may be sufficient to yield substantial efficiency improvement, by temporarily collapsing the hierarchy and applying the market principle.