I’d heard a lot about Silicon Valley, but had lived and worked in Europe and Asia until I came to MIT Sloan School of Management. Passionate about bringing new technologies to market, I wanted to do an MBA program in the U.S. because, more than anywhere else, this is where taking risk is valued as a driver of change. That seems to be especially true in Silicon Valley, and I was eager to see it for myself.
Organizing our Technology Club’s annual Tech Trek to Silicon Valley, I planned visits to a mixture of hardware and software companies. I also requested that we meet with people from different functions, including product management, which is an area many MIT Sloan students are interested in these days.
The media spotlight has recently been on Apple Inc. AAPL +0.52% for shifting profits overseas to avoid U.S. taxes. In its international tax strategy, though, Apple is no different from other American technology companies, which (like Apple) began moving manufacturing overseas starting in the early 1980s.
Initially, U.S. technology firms that went abroad during this period were drawn by the lower labor, sourcing, and procurement costs. They also found they could eliminate exchange-rate risk by producing and selling in the same currency.
But these companies soon discovered another important advantage of being global: favorable taxation.
George Westerman (MIT Center for Digital Business), interviewed by Michael Fitzgerald
October 29, 2012
Big traditional companies get overlooked when it comes to digital transformation. But companies across all industry sectors are remaking their operations, their customer interactions, and even their business models. George Westerman tells us how they’re doing it, whether they are technology champions or beginners.
Richard Locke faults a production system geared to speed at all costs
Two decades after Nike faced heat for poor working conditions in its suppliers’ overseas factories, Apple has been responding to a series of scandals – health and safety problems, worker suicides and riots by workers employed at Foxconn, one of its lead suppliers in China. And, once again, consumer activists and others are calling for better standards, more workplace inspections and other steps to prevent such abuse. Read More »
Andy McAfee and I have just released a short e-book, Race Against the Machine. In it, we try to reconcile two important facts. 1) Technology continues to progress rapidly. In fact, the past decade has seen the fastest productivity growth since the 1960s, but 2) median wages and employment have both stagnated, leaving millions of people worse off than before. This presents a paradox: if technology and productivity are improving so much why are millions being left behind?
In the book, we document remarkable advances in digital technologies in particular. Innovations like IBM’s Watson, Google’s self-driving car, Apple’s Siri are turning science fiction into reality. Machines are doing more and more tasks that once only humans could do.