ERIC Number: EJ787287
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2008-Feb
Reference Count: 0
The Workplace Realities
Carnevale, Anthony P.
School Administrator, v65 n2 p34-39 Feb 2008
From the Civil War until the 1970s, the United States was the world's most successful mass-production economy, the very best at producing standardized goods and services at least cost and selling them at the lowest price. These mass-production successes required rigorous discipline and narrow skill. Final products and services were broken down into their smallest reproducible components and rigid single-purpose machinery was built to mass-produce standardized components. A large mass of unskilled labor was used to tend the machines. A much smaller group of broadly skilled and broadly assigned white-collar and technical elites were installed at the top of large-scale organizational pyramids. Something happened in the early 1970s. Suddenly the United States' mass-production system seemed to lose its competitive edge. People began to demand more than mass-produced standardized goods and services because often they could afford more. Family income doubled between 1946 and 1972 in the United States, and America's economic "golden age" was mirrored in the rest of the world. As the world got richer, the appeal of standardized commodities and services declined. Competition shifted rapidly to new kinds of value added that required new kinds of skill. With added wealth consumption shifted to services like health care, education and media. Service functions even began to dominate manufacturing where making products became a simple parlor tricks and more of the value added came from marketing, financing, customer service and managing quality, variety, customization, innovation, convenience, novelty and speeded operations. In addition, as the rest of the world dug out from the rubble of World War II and began to prosper, they began to compete with Americans at home and in world markets. They are no longer insulated from head-to-head global competition. The increasing competition and the demand for new kinds of value added have created more intense, constantly escalating and increasingly complex competitive requirements. The traditional competition based on the ability to mass produce standardized goods and services and sell them at low cost has been gradually displaced by a competition based on a diverse mix of requirements and new kinds of value added, including: (1) Productive investment; (2) Quality; (3) Variety; (4) Customization; (5) Convenience; (6) Consistency; (7) Speed and continuous innovation; and (8) Social responsibility.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A