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Producing Prosperity: Why America Needs a Manufacturing Renaissance Hardcover – October 16, 2012

4.3 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


“In their book Producing Prosperity: Why America Needs a Manufacturing Renaissance, Harvard Business School professors Gary Pisano and Willy Shih cut through the confusion. In just 138 pages—a perfect read for the Washington to New York Acela—they offer the most compelling case I have read for why making things matters, even if it will produce very few manufacturing jobs in the future.” — Council on Foreign Relations

“The prescriptions they offer are not only timely…but they are also realistic goals that are within our grasp.” — Trend & Manufacturing Alert

ADVANCE PRAISE for Producing Prosperity:

Lawrence H. Summers, President Emeritus and Charles W. Eliot Professor, Harvard University; former Secretary of the Treasury of the United States—
“America will still face critical economic challenges long after the financial crisis. Pisano and Shih make the best argument yet that a renewed focus on manufacturing is crucial for our economic future. Their work should be closely considered by anyone concerned with the future of the American economy.”

Wendell Weeks, Chairman and CEO, Corning Incorporated—
“Pisano and Shih understand the critical link between manufacturing and innovation. They make a powerful case for why a renewed focus on manufacturing is vital to restoring America’s global competitiveness.”

Charles Vest, President, National Academy of Engineering; President Emeritus, Massachusetts Institute of Technology—
“In this data-driven book, Pisano and Shih argue persuasively that to launch an American manufacturing renaissance, we must strengthen the human capital, policy, and basic infrastructure that are our ‘industrial commons.’ Their message must be heeded—retaining the ability to innovate is far more important than retaining specific industries.”

Regina Dugan, Senior Vice President, Advanced Technology & Projects, Motorola Mobility; former Director, DARPA—
“The authors declare, ‘When a country loses the ability/capacity to manufacture, it loses the ability to innovate.’ I couldn’t agree more. We do need a renaissance in manufacturing. Now.”

Ralph Gomory, Research Professor, Stern School of Business, New York University; National Medal of Science recipient—
“Pisano and Shih’s concepts of the ‘industrial commons,’ and of competing through capabilities, are essential for understanding what is actually happening to American manufacturing and what is needed to restore it.”

Sergio Marchionne, CEO, Fiat; Chairman and CEO, Chrysler Group LLC—
“This timely book is a wake-up call for American policy makers and business leaders. It urges us all to look hard into the rearview mirror.”

About the Author

Gary P. Pisano is the Harry E. Figgie, Jr. Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School, where he has been on the faculty since 1988. His research has focused on the management of innovation, technology and competitive strategy, and outsourcing. Willy C. Shih is a professor of management practice in the Technology and Operations Management unit at Harvard Business School. His research focuses on capability acquisition in Asian firms and the linkage to US competitiveness issues. Prior to coming to HBS, he spent eighteen years in information technology, followed by ten years in the consumer electronics industry.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard Business Review Press (October 16, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1422162680
  • ISBN-13: 978-1422162682
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 0.8 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #705,767 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Loyd Eskildson HALL OF FAME on October 25, 2012
Format: Hardcover
'Producing Prosperity' contends that are number of important industrial capabilities have been lost or at risk in the U.S. - producing ultra-heavy forgings (eg. for nuclear reactors or steam generators), metal cutting machine tools (eg. metal cutting, grinding and polishing, lathes, station-type machines, punching and shearing, bending and forming, presses), permanent magnet electric motors and generators, purification and fabrication of devices using rare-earth elements, rechargeable batteries for hybrid electric vehicles, LED lighting manufacturing, semiconductor manufacturing, LCD crystal displays, and fiber optics components.

Authors Pisano and Shih wrote in a July-August, 2009 Harvard Business Review article that 'Decades of outsourcing has left U.S. industry without the means to invent the next generation of high-technology products that are key to rebuilding its economy.' Now, their book 'Producing Prosperity' extends that theme, contending the reinvesting in American manufacturing is necessary both for creating jobs and for maintaining our lead in innovation.

Referring back to times when farmers and locals townspeople brought their livestock to a local pasture ('the commons') that everyone could use and suffered when the commons was neglected, they analogize that modern industries similarly benefit or suffer from a more complex form of industrial commons. Today's industrial commons consists of webs of technological know-how, operational capabilities, and specialized skills held by the workforce, competitors, suppliers, customers, and universities that often support multiple industrial sectors.

They then set out three important themes. 1)When a country loses the capability to manufacture, it also loses the ability to innovate. Innovation/R&D are often (eg.
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The book surely documents its main point solidly. But I find it disturbingly incomplete. Let me mention three major omissions.

Pisano and Shih make an indisputable case that exporting manufacturing not only deprives America of jobs and income. It erodes the industrial commons that sustain innovation, etc.

My first unanswered question is why the U.S., with its historic traditions, natural assets and aptitude for manufacturing, should have suffered such disproportional loss of manufacturing in the first place.
Why should we need a book to convince people that no advanced nation can function without ability to manufacture a full range of products?

In contrast to the U.S., advanced European nations with higher wage costs have kept or expanded their traditional industries.Think of Germany, the world's leading truckmaker, with four profitable automakers, machine tools, dyes and chemicals, its historic optical industries (Leica and Zeiss), and increasing share of specialized equipment in the U.S.Little Sweden should embarrass us. Besides its popular exports to the U.S.,like IKEA home furnishings, Brita water filters, mattrasses, pharmaceuticals,and alcoholic beverages, Sweden is the world's second truckmaker. Similar stories can be told for the industrial sectors of Italy, France, Austria,Netherlands, and Finland.

The second omission is that manufacturing is not merely neglected in the U.S. Until very recently it was stigmatized. It began in the 1960s - remember the biting sarcasm around "plastics" in the 1968 film,
"The Graduate"?

In the atmosphere of environmental crisis following the Santa Barbara offshore oil spill of 1969, Congress tacitly assumed that manufacturing and industry were the principal threats to environment and health.
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The authors of Producing Prosperity (Harvard Business Review Press), Gary Pisano and Willy Shih, both professors from Harvard Business School, look abroad and direct our attention to Germany and Switzerland where national economies have a strong foundation in high-quality manufacturing. Switzerland is an economic powerhouse and this year topped the overall rankings of 144 national economies in The Global Competitiveness Report 2012-2013 of the World Economic Forum (WEF) for the fourth consecutive time. This analysis allows some insights into the sources and forces that contribute to this remarkable and consistent performance. The United States ranks as number 7 in this comparative report. Interestingly in high-tech Switzerland every fifth Swiss Franc is earned in manufacturing, while in the U.S. in 2010 manufacturing accounted only for 12% of the GDP and employed only 9% of the workforce. Pisano and Shih move the loss of manufacturing and the coupled loss of innovative capability into the center of their investigation of what went wrong in the American economy. They show us what happened since 1950 when America still earned 27% of the GDP in manufacturing and employed a third of the workforce in this sector. They also tell us why this economic decline happened resulting in a loss of competitiveness as a consequence of a concomitant decline in innovative strength in the respective technological sectors. Key consequences of the outsourcing of manufacturing to cheaper-producing (mainly Asian) countries are high trade deficits, rising unemployment, and astronomical national dept. Hardly noticed, a decline of innovative strength was the most devastating consequence of the outsourcing folly.
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