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End of the Line: The Rise and Coming Fall of the Global Corporation Hardcover – August 16, 2005
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From Publishers Weekly
The problem with globalized outsourcing, former Global Business executive editor Lynn warns, is that "a breakdown anywhere increasingly means a breakdown everywhere," as when a 2003 earthquake in Taiwan halted semiconductor manufacturing for a week, negatively affecting American electronics firms. National security, he argues, is jeopardized by this "hyperspecialized and hyper-rigid production system" as well; for Lynn, until the NAFTA-izing Bill Clinton came along, our trade policy had been for two centuries designed to prevent such potential catastrophes. Lynn has a knack for finding attractive, easy-to-grasp models from the contemporary business scene—such as using Dell's rise in the 1990s to explain the triumph of logistics management—but readers sometimes have to wade through heavy doses of economic theory to get to the livelier sections. Though some might view his concerns as excessively alarmist, Lynn delivers a welcome new facet to the antiglobalization debate, moving well beyond the stale "corporations are evil" argument to lay out a worrying economic overview.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
About globalization Lynn observes, "Our corporations have built the most efficient system of production the world has even seen, perfectly calibrated to a world in which nothing bad ever happens." Yet, bad things happen all the time, from natural disasters and wars to human error. The American people are relying on a global industrial system, which has serious structural flaws, and Lynn offers a thought-provoking perspective on the system's winners and those at risk. We learn that while academics, investors, and customers view the global production system with enthusiasm, it is a disaster for many, including pension and health-insurance beneficiaries, and it shifts the power over wages and work environment from workers to investors. In reality we already live in a global system, and the author recommends using economic tools to correct the system's failings. Since we are participants in a production system that is not controlled by any one company or any one country, this will be a challenge. Mary Whaley
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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For me that was the high point of this book.
He makes some sensible points about topics such as theories on the source of Clinton's trade policy with China and the possibility that Robert Reich had a strong influence on it.
Another strong point was the relationship between business and foreign policy. Consider the global trade and American imperialism.
On the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act and the blame it has recieved for economic woes he was correct- "And so the idea that protectionism kills jobs became one of the central founding myths of the modern Democratic Party." But the author doesn't endorse protecting American jobs.
"End of the Line" examines several business strategies by such famous executives as Sam Walton and Jack Welch. Companies like GE, Cisco, and Motorola are looked at also.
One assessment that hits hard at globalism and outsourcing is the ripple effect that can easily cripple a global supply line. The "Lean" manufacturing process aka "Toyota production philosophy" is not a fixall process from my experience with it. The author details some of that process.
The book addresses the America-China business relationships with no mention of China holding a large amount of America's debt. I was surprised that it wasn't mentioned!
In summing "End of the Line" up, it does have some interesting facts about specific corporations using global outsourcing and linking politics to business. It doesn't touch on the human element like loss of American jobs or the living conditions for some labor being exploited by outsourcing.
Jeff Faux's "Global Class War" is a book I would recommend intead of "End of the Line."
Far from an unreasoned polemic, this book provided a fairly well reasoned and argued analysis of the weaknesses of the global supply chain. In a sense, America got a taste of these weaknesses with the disruption caused by hurricane Katrina in the fall of 2005. However, the potential shortfalls are not just limited to the handful of so-called super-ports that process the bulk of America's imports and exports. The extremely small numbers of companies that still make micro chips combined with their location in Taiwan make this a risky organization if China becomes bellicose or if Taiwan decides to be adversarial towards the United States for an extended period. These are a few examples, but the point that there is very little redundancy in a supply chain that has been made extremely lean to reduce costs. Moreover, it has created a situation where large multi-nationals bully suppliers without understanding anything about mass production. For example, does anyone really believe that Wal-Mart knows anything about the Chinese companies that make their products?
To this humble reader, we are in a very abnormal period of history where transportation costs are so low that it is extremely inexpensive to transport manufactured goods around the world. It seems likely that rising energy costs, increasing computer power and nano-technology will all combine to reverse that trend and potentially turn an individual into a thousand different factories. However, that is not the world we live in now. Mr. Lynn's analysis seems more right than wrong.
If you are interested in a well argued thesis demonstrating weaknesses in the current international business model, this is an excellent read.
Lynn's book is a good look at the mindset of International Corporations who like the media today do not look at themselves as American but as World citizens. To save a little money American corporations since NAFTA have started moving jobs overseas. To justify this they are claiming they are fighting terrorism by increasing the standard of living in the third world. A $300 a month tech in India may be as good as his american counterpart in the US making $4000 but a GI Joe with Kung Fu grip costs as much in Hylalabad as it does in LA. Their standard of living isn't going to rise too much.
Lynn argues that Globalization rather than decreasing our vulnerability to terrorists is actually increasing it as means of production are moved closer to hot spot areas and Companies are dependant on third world despots (and probably the US military) to protect their interests.
He relates how both parties in the US are in bed together on the issue of globalization. He relates that the free trade positions of both Bush Administrations and that of Bill Clinton were almost in lock step. It makes one wonder if there is a politicl solution out there.
The book is very scary and I would reccomend it to those who need a reply to some of the rah rah Pro Globalization books out there.