Deconstruction of the monolithic corporation

The corporate meltdown comments have begun to take on a life of their
own. The last two comments are a good starting point for an expanded
discussion of the possible humanization of industry as they illustrate
two sides of a complex issue.

Jill wrote:

I think over time large companies will have their young road warriors,
but as they marry, have children, grow older and burn out, these road
warriors will start their own businesses many of them outsourced or
home-sourced. I think technology will enable many of these to form what
Shoshanna Zuboff calls federations of free agents who come together to
create and perform "deep support" in people’s lives, something large
corporations cannot do.

Dan wrote:

I think that there is another factor that all of us forget. The economy
is not all about people sitting next to a PC… People manufacture…
and these things needs heavy equipment. examples: chip fabs, food,
machines (like cars or ships or planes)

…The PC+internet are powerful tools for creation (i.e writing),
but… there is more then writing things… there is still a real,
concrete world out there…

Dan makes a valid point. I am not suggesting we set up chip fab
operations in our garages. (Disposing of the byproducts would be a
royal nightmare!)

But, I am insisting that industry, even heavy industry, is no longer in
the position it was in the 20’s and 30’s when workers were viewed as
interchangeable cogs, and worked routinely in dismal, sometimes hellish
conditions.

I have worked in a factory setting and am familiar with foundries and
assembly and welding operations performed in dimly-lit caverns. I have
a real appreciation of the errors that are routinely made because of
insufficient illumination and the numbing fatigue that comes with long
hours of deafening noise.

The mindset that uses people as robots is no match for those who think
outside the box and look at people as resources which are most
valuable when self-actuated.

America was throwing workers at the problem of welding and painting
automobiles and probably would still be doing so if the Japanese
hadn’t bypassed us by building robots to do those jobs faster and more
efficiently.

In a free market, those who are more efficient take business away from
those who are less efficient, assuming that the efficiency is
translated into lower prices and better service for the customer.

My purpose in pursuing this line of discussion, is to examine whether
self-actuated groups are inherently more efficient in a business
environment than groups using strict command and control protocols.

For openers, we could consider the success of Communism in Russia vs
the arguably inefficient and undisciplined methods of controlling the
American economy. Somehow, America’s free market system kept muddling
through and coming out ahead time after time.

Could it be that distributed decision-making has some peculiar power
and unexpected efficiency?  Sounds like blogging and the blogosphere to
me. Perhaps we should throw some more bloggers at the problems of humanizing industry.

More on this later…

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