Monday, July 27, 2009

"Inside a Chinese Gadget Factory"

[cross-posted from our WFU MBA China Trip 2009 blog]
This is an interesting perspective on the Chinese manufacturing industry from a worker at Foxcomm, a electronics company that makes products like the iPhone.

It's sometimes difficult for Americans to reader these and not cry "slave labor" or "sweat shops", but it's probably more important to step back on consider a few additional concepts:

  1. As this person states, there are literally thousands (or millions) of people moving from the farms to the urban areas, and these jobs offer the opportunity for more pay than they have on the farm. So while the working conditions aren't ideal (whatever "ideal" means), they offer the potential to make financial progress for themselves and their families.
  2. While there has been discussion about wage inflation in China in knowledge-worker sectors, there are still waves of workers moving from farms to cities that will allow Chinese companies to retain their cost advantages for potentially a generation. This is why you see the emphasis on the systems for new-hire training.

I highlight this not because I'm trying to justify the actions of Foxcomm, but rather to bring light to the environment in China for anyone that will be doing business over there (your company) or dealing with competition. As our visit with VF highlighted, it's important to disconnect from our Western biases and experiences when doing business in Asia. It's not the same, and the sooner we can adapt to their culture the sooner we will start to understand why they have taking their actions in that manner.

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