Increasing manufacturing jobs in the U.S. requires innovation and variety — Donald Rosenfield

MIT Sloan Sr. Lecturer Don Rosenfield

In the last 10 years, there has been a dramatic reduction in manufacturing jobs in the U.S. due to a combination of factors, such as the economic crisis and foreign competition. But manufacturing jobs can return to the U.S., and a key component of that return involves innovation to facilitate product variety.

Companies that manufacture products abroad typically do not offer significant product variety, as the support costs — like inventory, markdowns and returns — are too high. It’s more economical to produce a narrow product line when you’re shipping to warehouses from across an ocean. Read More »

Visiting Prof. Zeynep Ton on why more retailers should invest in their employees

MIT Sloan Visiting Prof. Zeynep Ton

It’s no secret that the labor market is tough these days. But the issue isn’t just the number of people who are unemployed. It’s also income inequality and the low pay of retail employees that’s concerning. Retail employees represent close to 20% of the U.S. workforce.

In retail, conventional wisdom holds that if you want to offer the best prices then you can’t afford to invest in your employees. Typical retail workers receive minimal training, irregular hours, and no benefits for part-timers. Turnover is high with understaffing common.

Wages are so low that retail workers tend to rely more on public assistance than workers in other industries. If companies actually invested in their employees by offering better jobs, many of these people could move into the middle class, which is critical in our economy.

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Asst. Prof. Karen Zheng: When a handshake is enough–the role of trust in supply chain management

MIT Sloan Asst. Prof. Karen Zheng

Trust is important to our relationships with friends, family, and acquaintances. Less understood, though, is the role trust can play in business relationships. When businesses deal with each other, their first impulse often is to summon their lawyers. But I have found in my research that there are many situations in which trust can be an effective replacement for costly and time-consuming contract negotiations.

To understand the role of trust in business, I and two colleagues, Ozalp Ozer of the University of Texas at Dallas and Kay-Yut Chen of Hewlett-Packard Laboratories, conducted a series of computer laboratory experiments that simulated one of the most vexing problems in supply chain management: The tendency for manufacturers to issue overly optimistic forecasts.

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