Wow! This article makes very tangible the intangible thought of a post-Brexit Great Britain and the effect it will have on daily lives. I can imagine that cars, already a high-ticket item, will become much more prohibitively expensive post-Brexit for the average British family in addition to a variety of other consumer goods. What is particularly interesting about the complexity you raised about Brexit’s impact on Ford is the context-specific implications of political isolationism. Quite simply, Great Britain may not have the space, number of workers, or natural resources in its Isles or population to support centralizing its car parts sourcing from inside Great Britain. This conundrum might look very different if faced by a larger country such as France, Germany, the US, or China which have much larger populations and natural resources from which to base resilience. Based on its strong historical legacy as a leader within the EU, I believe Great Britain will ultimately reach an agreement with the EU like the Schengen agreement between non-EU Switzerland and the EU which both satisfies political goals and economic goals for both parties and may mitigate many of the risks you outlined for Ford in your article.
Ben, thanks for this very interesting read! I think your article perfectly highlights the irony of political conflict in the face of economic interdependency, which is particularly interesting in the context of the US/Russia space race as they have been and continue to be vocal rivals. I appreciate that the solution you present is to utilize free market incentives to boost up American space companies in order to mitigate the economic risks of political isolationism, and I wonder if conversely there will be strong enough business incentives to overcome the suffering, pain, and disadvantage caused by political isolationism. This article makes clear that the US remains in many ways completely dependent for its national security on the very agents (China, Russia particularly), that it must boost up its national security to protect itself against. Even if one solution is to outsource to American companies, those companies may also have in their best interest to export supply chain management out to these same nation-state agents with which the US has an antagonistic political relationship. Perhaps the best protectionism is to embrace the truth of economic interdependency and translate its motivations into diplomatic achievements.
I very much enjoyed reading your article and was heartened to see that electric vehicles could make a significant impact on stemming or at least decreasing the rate at which the threats of climate change are disrupting ways of life around the world. One key challenge for Nio to overcome, which you point out, is if they want to succeed not only as a business but also in their goals to help combat climate change will be to optimize its supply chain management to lower costs and ultimately bring the price of their EV vehicles (luxury or economy) to be competitive with traditional vehicles. As you mentioned in your article, perhaps heavy involvement of the Chinese government in both investment in Nio and in regulation of supply chain management overall will accelerate this process.
Thank you for this amazing overview of Samasource’s work on how digitization of supply chain management can actually be used to create jobs for displaced peoples! I would argue that your article may also address a possible effect of climate change on supply chain management as well which might be to displace more people and create even more need for workers with basic-to-mid-level training who will be able to contribute in this way. In addition, I think that this perhaps disruptive change may also increase the rate at which peoples around the world are motivated to adopt these skills. I do wonder whether as with past jobs the new skills needed in the age of information technology are as susceptible to future disruption as labor skills have now become in the face of digitization. Samasource seems to have a sound business model based on a very specific and niche need but ultimately I think their ability to scale up this core function is the key to their success.
What an articulate and thoughtful article, with a wonderful exhibit – I learned so much! I find your comment comparing Patagonia’s progress to its European counterparts to be particularly telling. Are there key political or cultural differences surrounding the integration of business and corporate responsibility or climate change that may help explain why Patagonia has not adopted these practices? I would argue that Patagonia has differentiated itself from its peers not only with its loud and demonstrated commitment to corporate social responsibility but also to its excellent customer service which encourages consumers to bring Patagonia products back for repair over and over instead of purchasing replacements and discarding, which I think adds to the company’s positive feedback loop. However, even this practice does not mitigate, and indeed may exacerbate, the huge burden contributed by absence of attention to the transportation implications of its sustainability initiatives.
Your essay thoughtfully documents a very difficult change management process for Boston Children’s Hospital and I believe you correctly identify what will be the biggest challenge faced by Children’s in truly implementing Industry 4.0 which will be training the myriad types of providers who will be interacting with this system and integrating it into their minute-to-minute workflows. There will need to be a highlighted focus on utilizing the digitization of supply chain management to free provider space in dedication of patient care as opposed to lowering costs, which in the the mission-driven and nonprofit context of Children’s will not be effective in motivating frontline employees to make painful change. I find your point on the necessity to adopt new metrics intriguing as well, and I wonder if there might be a way to integrate new supply chain management metrics with patient care metrics to make them more motivating to providers.