Are companies reconsidering their worldwide strategies?
Corporations rushed to expand their global operations over the last three decades, motivated in part by China's aggressive policies seeking foreign investment. Industries including automobiles, clothing manufacturing and technology opened factories there and in other parts of the developing world, with the United States losing jobs from the shift: In 1979, a record 19.5 million Americans worked in factories; now, around 12.3 million do so, and China has replaced the United States as the No. 1 manufacturing nation. But the complexity of operating overseas, rising labor costs in China and rapidly changing consumer tastes are causing some companies to reconsider their global manufacturing strategies. A growing number view Mexico as a closer-to-home low-wage alternative, and a few corporations are bringing work back to their home countries in a process known as “re-shoring.” The challenges of global manufacturing raise a number of questions. Can China keep its manufacturing lead? Will low wages continue to drive global manufacturing? Is re-shoring real?
Isaacson, Walter, “Steve Jobs,” Simon & Schuster, 2011. Best-selling biography of the late Apple CEO discusses his life and influence across seven industries—personal computers, animated movies, music, phones, tablet computing, digital publishing and retail stores.
Martinez, David, “Zara: The Vision and Strategy of Amancio Ortega” (Spanish edition), Random House Mondadori, 2012. Zara, the Spanish clothing and accessories retailer, has made Ortega one of the world's wealthiest and most successful businessmen.
Maynard, Micheline, “The Selling of the American Economy: How Foreign Companies Are Remaking the American Dream,” Broadway Books, 2009. Journalist specializing in automotive industry and the economy explores investments by foreign manufacturers in the United States and the impact on workers, communities, states and regions.
Ohno, Taiichi, “Toyota Production System: Beyond Large-Scale Production,” Productivity Press, 1998. The creator of the much-copied Toyota Production System explains its principles.
Roos, Daniel, James P. Womack and Daniel T. Jones, “The Machine That Changed the World,” Harper Perennial, 1991. Based on a five-year study of the automobile industry by MIT researchers, the book introduced the concept of “lean manufacturing.”
Vance, Ashlee, “Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future,” Ecco, 2015. A technology writer looks at the life of the entrepreneur whose gigafactory project could be the next wave of global manufacturing, or a disaster.
“Still made in China,” The Economist, Sept. 12, 2015, http://tinyurl.com/
Bremmer, Ian, “The New Rules of Globalization,” Harvard Business Review, January-February 2014, http://tinyurl.com/
Kazer, William, “China Manufacturing Gauge Hits Two-Year Low,” The Wall Street Journal, Aug. 3, 2015, http://tinyurl.com/
Levitt, Theodore, “The Globalization of Markets,” Harvard Business Review, May 1983, http://tinyurl.com/
Philips, Matthew, “The U.S. South Rises as a Manufacturing Hub,” Bloomberg Business, Sept. 4, 2014, http://tinyurl.com/
Reports and Studies
“C.A.S.E.—Car of the Future: The AlixPartners Global Automotive Outlook 2015,” AlixPartners, June 2015, http://tinyurl.com/
“Global Manufacturing Outlook 2015,” KPMG Consulting, June 2015, http://tinyurl.com/
“Mexico's Manufacturing Sector Continues to Grow,” Stratfor Global Intelligence, April 6, 2015, http://tinyurl.com/
“Sustaining Employment Growth: The Role of Manufacturing and Structural Change,” United Nations Industrial Development Organization, 2013, http://tinyurl.com/
The Next Step
McCarthy, Tom, “Trump's flawed policies would threaten the global economy, say analysts,” The Guardian, Aug. 26, 2015, http://tinyurl.com/
Vlasic, Bill, “In Former Hummer Plant in Indiana, Mercedes Turns Out S.U.V.s for China,” The New York Times, Aug. 11, 2015, http://tinyurl.com/
Young, Angelo, “China's Slowdown Could See Automakers Slowing Factory Construction Or Exporting Excess Cars From China,” International Business Times, Aug. 31, 2015, http://tinyurl.com/
Chen, Tim, “3D printing can help modernise China's economy: premier Li Keqiang,” South China Morning Post, Aug. 24, 2015, http://tinyurl.com/
Curran, Enda, “How China's Economy Suffers When It Tries to Cut Pollution,” Bloomberg Business, Aug. 3, 2015, http://tinyurl.com/
Spence, Peter, “China leading world towards global economic recession, warns Citi,” The Telegraph, Sept. 9, 2015, http://tinyurl.com/
Reshoring and Near-Shoring
Bounds, Andrew, and Tanya Powley, “UK textiles eye reshoring jobs boost,” Financial Times, Feb. 9, 2015, http://tinyurl.com/
Carey, Nick, “Wal-Mart taps manufacturer database to aid U.S. reshoring drive,” Reuters, July 8, 2015, http://tinyurl.com/
Woods, Bob, “Is there a renaissance in US manufacturing? Numbers don't add up,” CNBC, June 10, 2015, http://tinyurl.com/
Kynge, James, “Mexico steals a march on China in car manufacturing,” Financial Times, April 21, 2015, http://tinyurl.com/
McLain, Sean, “Foxconn Seeks Manufacturing Sites in India,” The Wall Street Journal, Aug. 4, 2015, http://tinyurl.com/
Timmons, Heather, “The Philippines factory fire shows the grim reality behind a fast-growth economy,” Quartz, May 18, 2015, http://tinyurl.com/
Manufacturing Enterprise Solutions Association
107 S. Southgate Drive, Chandler, AZ 85226
Education and training organization that works on global manufacturing topics.
The Manufacturing Institute
733 10th St., N.W., Washington, DC 20001
U.S. think tank that studies manufacturing topics.
Organization for International Investment
1225 19th St., N.W., Suite 501, Washington, D.C. 20036
Trade group representing foreign companies investing in the United States.
Society of Manufacturing Engineers
One SME Drive, Dearborn, MI 48128
International professional organization serving the manufacturing community.
United Nations Industrial Development Organization
Vienna International Centre Wagramerstr. 5, P.O. Box 300, A-1400 Vienna, Austria
United Nations group that tracks international manufacturing data.
U.S.-China Chamber of Commerce
55 W. Monroe St., Suite 630, Chicago, IL 60603
Trade group representing American companies investing in China.
World Trade Organization
Rue de Lausanne 154, 1202 Geneva, Switzerland
International body that governs global trade rules.