1) 1) In this case below, there is an issue of the actions of corporations and their responsibilities therein. Which perspective argument provided by a classmate did you find most compelling? Please specify the point of view, the author, and provide evidence for support.
2) 2) This case below discusses what it means to globalize human capital. Please provide additional potential examples of further consequences of this globalization.
3) 3) Noting the high margin of profit Apple accrues for each sale, how might you allocate resources t solve the critical problem here, as you defined it in question 1?
Apple has become one of the best-known, most admired and most imitated companies on earth, in part through an unrelenting mastery of global operations. 2 There are risks and rewards for all in a global economy. The globalization of human capital results in a range of winners and losers around the world: companies and their stockholders, consumers, contractors, firms up and down the supply chain, employed people, and unemployed people, as well as their economies. In February 2011, President Obama asked Apple’s Steve Jobs why Apple could not bring back all the jobs it used to provide in the United States. The jobs related to most high-tech products made by companies such as Dell, HP, and Apple have now migrated overseas, including those for Apple’s 70 million iPhones, 30 million iPads, and 59 million other products sold in 2011. Breaking down the retail price of $500 for Apple’s iPhone, for example, Time magazine estimates that $61 worth of value comes from Japan, with its high-end technology manufacturing; $30 of value is added from Germany; $23 from South Korea; $7 from Chinese assembly lines; $48 from “unspecified”; and $11 from the U.S. Those inputs total $179 for parts and assembly abroad, leaving Apple, the inventor in the U.S., a profit of $321. 3 For the first quarter of 2012, Apple made $13 billion in profit. Although Apple directly employs 43,000 in the U.S. and 20,000 overseas, an additional 700,000 people engineer, build, and assemble iPads, iPhones, and Apple’s other products in Asia and Europe. Sophisticated component parts outsourced in various countries are assembled in China. Some of those are contracted to the Taiwanese-headquartered company Foxconn’s Longhua factory campus in Shenzhen, for example, where over 300,000 employees live in dorms, eat on site, and chum out iPhones, Sony PlayStations, and Dell computers. Foxconn Technology, with 1.2 million employees in plants throughout the country, is China’s largest exporter and assembles an estimated 40 percent of the world’s consumer electronics, including for customers such as Amazon, Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Nintendo, Nokia and Samsung. No other factories in the world have the manufacturing scale Foxconn.
The answer to the President’s question is not as simple as the ability to acquire cheaper labor overseas; Apple’s executives and those at other high-tech firms claim that “Made in the USA” is not a competitive strategy for them because America does not compare favorably with the industrial skills, hard work, and flexibility that can be found in companies such as Foxconn. Questions as to what corporate America owes to Americans are met with the example of thousands of Chinese workers being roused in the night to accommodate a redesigned iPhone screen, and within a few days being able to produce 10,000 iPhones a day – a feat not possible in U.S. factories. While the cost of labor is a small percentage of an iphones costs the major advantage and cost saving in China is the management of supply chains and rapid access to component parts and manufacturing supplies from various factories in close proximity. In addition, Apple maintains that the large number of engineers and other skilled workers who could be accessed on short notice in China simply are not readily available in the US; nor are the factories with the scale, speed, and flexibility that such a high-tech company needs. Apple executive give the example of visiting a factory to consider whether it could do the necessary work to cut the glass for the iPhone’s touchscreen. Upon their arrival, a new wing of the plant was already being built “in case you give us the contract.” Fareed Zakaria, in Time, maintains that his competitive edge is gained largely through Chinese government subsidies and streamlined regulations in order to boost domestic manufacturing. In the end, however, Apple maintains that”
We dont have an obligation to solve America’s problems. Our only obligation is making the best product possible.
However, ager a number of suicides at Foxconn in 2010, reportedly attributable to the poor working conditions and excessive hours for very low pay, Apple was under some pressure from negative publicity; subsequently Foxconn raised wages, retained counselors, and literally strung nets from its highest buildings (to catch people). Apple does have a supplier code of conduct. In January 2012, Apple joined the Fair Labor Association, the first technology company to do so, and asked the group to do an independent assessment of conditions at its major factories. This move followed the company’s own report that documented numerous labor violations, including employees doing 60 hour workweeks and not getting paid proper overtime. A few days after the FLA started its investigation, Foxconn said that they would increase salaries for some workers by 16% to 20% – to about $400 a month before overtime – and they would reduce overtime. While this is encouraging news for workers’ rights, it should be noted that Apple and other contractors are known to only allow the slimmest of profits to its suppliers, which results in the suppliers trying anything to reduce their costs, such as using cheaper and more toxic chemicals or making their employees work faster and longer.
“The only way you make money working for Apple is figuring out how to do things more efficiently or cheaper,” said an executive at one company that helped bring the iPad to market. “An then they’ll come back the next year, and force a 10 percent price cut.”
China is being forced to take notice of such problems and labor is gaining some ground; the issue then is that firms have already started to move jobs to other countries with lower wages.