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Questioning Globalization

Dec. 8, 2005
Competition on a global scale is squeezing manufacturers dry.

Globalization is on the minds of everyone -- from manufacturing executives at multibillion-dollar corporations to local craftsmen who now have to compete with products made half a world away.

Learning how to compete on a global scale has gone from an existential exercise to full-blown courses at business schools around the world.

And while we in the U.S. feel globalization hurts us the most (a natural instinct), other developed nations also are focused on the effects globalization has on their economies.

In some instances, even least-developed countries are experiencing their own ramifications from globalization in the form of brain drain -- workers traveling to other countries to seek more-lucrative employment -- although that sentiment is of little use to autoworkers and auto parts manufacturers that have been squeezed by globalization's lure of cheaper parts and labor all in the name of competition.

Indeed, "There have been many instances in which the auto industry has been the bellwether for the economy as a whole," says Susan Helper, an economics professor at the Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western University in Cleveland. "Henry Ford was the first [industrialist] to raise wages to $5 a day, and the industry was at the forefront of adopting new technologies. Now it's at the forefront of what we as a nation are going to do about wages and benefits and how we are going to compete in an era of high health-care costs and low-wage competitors."

The following essay by Al Schultz, CEO of Valassis Communications, ponders the future of middle-income workers in the globalized world. "They face an uncomfortable proposition -- do they work for less or see their jobs go abroad?" Sound familiar?

Related Essays

Times Call For Tough Ethical Choices, by Al Schultz, CEO, Valassis Communications Inc.
The Global Language, by Robert Kross, vice president, Autodesk's Manufacturing Solutions division
Communication Is Key To Happy Customers, by Richard Hochhauser, president and CEO, Harte-Hanks Inc.

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