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"Mainstream media" vision "Mainstream media" vision
by Luis Alves
2008-02-13 09:50:31
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1. Nokia

1.1 "Mainstream media" vision

Running the Numbers - An American Self-Portrait by Chris Jordan Recently, Nokia, world largest manufacturer of mobile phones, announced that it would close its plant in Bochum (Germany), by the middle of this year in a cut that could reach up to 2300 jobs, and the transfer of the production to more competitive places in Europe.

"We are transferring the production to existing plants, mainly in Romania, whose unit will open in the second quarter", said the spokesman of the company, Arja Suominen, stating that it had already begun the selection. [1]

In Europe, Nokia has factories in countries like Finland, Hungary and the United Kingdom, being a new factory in Romania in process of building, investment of around 60 million euros. It also has factories located in Brazil, Mexico, India and China. Last December, the company decided to move some of its production lines from Finland to South Korea.

According to Bloomberg, a German trade union considered this attitude "inhumane" and "socially unacceptable".

Also the Nokia Siemens Networks stated its intention to cut 9 thousand jobs, 15 percent of its total work force by the end of 2010 (2290 from of Germany).

However more recently, Nokia presented the financial results of the fourth quarter of 2007 with an increase of 44% net profit, totalizing US $ 2.6 billion. The long-term goal, to reach 40% of mobile phones market share, was also achieved in the period.

From October to December 2007 the net sales grew up 34%, to 15.7 billion euros. The company announced that altogether it sold more than 133 million of mobile phones, an increase of 27% compared with the same period of 2006.


* End of the synthesis of some information disseminated by the corporate media *

2.1 Vision defocused from the individual

The distances become irrelevant; the technology division tends to disappear globally; the productivity is globally harmonised; a global management develops; the nationality of the companies gradually loses importance; emerges a new middle class in Central Europe, Asia and Latin America; increases the competition between the systems of values of the industrialized countries vs. Asia and Central Europe; in the West heterogeneous societies coexist with different systems of values and concepts of social class; in Western Europe emerges rejection of the concept of professional mobility; China , India and Russia become technological powers. [3]

These trends are subjective factors taken into account by multinationals, when they plan the location of their production units on the world map in order to obtain competitive advantages and financial profitability over the long term. In the case of Nokia, it wants to overcome their direct competitors, Samsung and Motorola, without reducing its profit margins.

This is the entrepreneurial vision of an management unit in a global economic system. A distant vision, defocused, “cold”, incomplete. But this is not the social reality of unemployment, a sum of thousands of avoidable individual tragedies, coexisting with a frantic capital accumulation, which no longer flows from the top (closed in itself) to the a social basis. Today is Germany, tomorrow will be another selected country.

3.1 Vision focused on the individual

The exercise proposed in the following is suitable for the correction of social “myopia”. It’s about visualizing an extraordinary artwork of Chris Jordan, having the hope, like him, that "the images representing these quantities might have a different effect than the raw numbers alone, such as we find daily in articles and books". Running the Numbers - An American Self-Portrait by Chris Jordan[4]

It’s necessary that the decision makers see their investment models in different scales, including the human scale. The statistics are necessary approximations of reality, but represent intrinsically an abstraction that may deviate us from the social and human reality , transforming human beings into digits.
References:

[1] Nokia fecha fábrica na Alemanha e corta 2300 postos de trabalho, www.negocios.pt
[2] Nokia's Kallasvuo apologises to Germans, www.hs.fi
[3] IMD World Competitiveness Yearbook, www.imd.ch
[4] Chris Jordan, Running the Numbers - An American Self-Portrait, www.chrisjordan.com

    
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Emanuel Paparella2008-02-13 13:18:13
One has to wonder if globalization is just another name for greedy unregulated laissez faire capitalism otherwise known as savage capitalism inimical to the very notion of distributive justice. Should we be surprised? Once the misguided Hegelian concept of deterministic and inevitable progress is set in place in a social organization, the monstrosity called The Market begins calling the shots and the individual is sacrificed on its altar of bottom line maximum profits. But let us not forget that even in the 19th century there was a little child who dared shout “the emperor is naked” to that over-rationalistic grand scheme of things. He championed the worth of each individual and his name was Soren Kierkegaard.


Sand2008-02-13 14:25:04
One can view the problems as a matter of "good" and "evil" or one can examine the economic machinery which drives a corporation to seek the most value for its input. If the value of labor is held low in certain areas then that labor will be utilized by a corporation seeking to maintain its market options. If an international force is bent on seeing to it that labor is properly valued then corporations will be forced to use labor more to the benefit of the laborers. At the moment labor has little international clout. That must be remedied.


Alexandra Pereira2008-02-14 00:24:41
You are right, Sand, hard work should be worth the same in germany, finland, china or india. That's the way to go. Then companies would be forced to choose their production placement according to other factors, like accessibilities or the size of the market they feed. This would again put some questions, like the ones related with environment protection and change of plants' placement according to demography, or other arbitrary market variables. It's obvious that work should be worth the same everywhere! Nevertheless a pure market and profit logic is always against human values. This reminds me of an american economist who suggested recently that one way of bringing equality to the world was to limit the maximum profit a company or individual can have. It's interesting. I just know, in the long run, we'll have to choose one of two: either share wealth and knowledge, and distribute it more fairly, or re-think our values and give the highest value to something else than money. Maybe in some centuries. LOL


AP2008-02-14 23:33:56
This is a europe-centered or western-centered perspective we must struggle against: the german trade union should consider it "inhumane" and "socially unaccepatble" not only for germans, but also for romanians!! This has been the problem - and I'm not talking of Nokia only, but most multinationals - with the protests by western authorities (they just look to their own belly buttons, and don't think that being under-paid for one's work is not reasonable either!!!). If they could see that, they would get support from romanians, indians or chinese themselves.


Sand2008-02-15 06:02:41
It must be noted that the low wage system that is gradually undermining the power of the west over third world countries by granting them markets and finance to develop their technological capabilities is a temporary situation. Once the third world has swallowed the bulk of manufacturing capability of the world they will be in a position of power to move away from the western rich countries with very viable markets of their own and there will be a leveling of living standards throughout the world. The west has held its own up to now by borrowing and by weakly backed credit and it is obvious even today that this inequity is beginning to crack. The tumble in the west will probably accelerate in the next few years. Unfortunately we live on a planet whose ecology is not only fragile but widely crumbling and the corrupt and insensitive governments throughout both east and west are trying to ignore the fact that the planet cannot bear the load of the huge population now existing to move to the current living standards in the west. There will be blood.


Alexandra Pereira2008-02-16 00:51:45
You know, I don't agree with that. Oh, so because it will eventually (who knows, maybe... in some centuries) level out, we should do nothing (nor demand our authorities to leave their hypocrisy behind their back) meanwhile? And I suppose it's okay if thousands of chinese workers get amputated in factories meanwhile, or hundreds of thousands are explored and work in unacepptable conditions around the world meanwhile - we don't have to do nothing because they will eventually reach a higher level of development, thanks to themselves! First of all, as they get the manufacture in the third world, west will keep ahead with its IT, access to scientific means and other kinds of services it can provide to the rest of the world. Second, we already have enough knowledge about alternative energies, for example, to provide sustainable development for everyone - it's a matter of political courage and, as most politicians don't have that, a matter of the civil society to demand that from them. Third, I see many developing countries worried with sustainable development, which is incredibly dignified, a sign of good-sense and very altruistic if you think that the most developed ones don't care so much about (they have all the available means not to, still they insist in polluting the most!!).


AP2008-02-16 01:13:50
You see, I think that's selfish from the europeans and americans, or from developed countries. The headquarters of the big companies will still be based in the developed world, most of the profits will still go there anyway, or to switzerland bank accounts or similar. Anyone cares that, in the case of this article example, a romanian worker is going to earn probably less than one german ex-Nokia worker receiving his unemployed subsidy? How fair is that if they have similar qualifications, or if the romanian by chance is more educated? We have to see the global picture, and demand things to change that way.
About the economist suggestion, I think it makes sense because some humans - usually the most emotionally and spiritually immature - have this thing of being more and more greedy as a form of compensation for their inner holes. Such measure would actively promote equality - as for me, i would applaud if they would try it in my own country -, correct some injustices and be pedagogical for those who don't know that sharing is the reason to be here.


Sand2008-02-16 05:51:50
To assume that the world can be influenced by good intentions to any large degree is inconceivably naive. Power is not given, it is taken. The original Christian dogma contained a full load of good intention and two thousand years of operation of that mass of good inclination has, if anything, only added frightful horror to world history. That other systems with good intention, religious or otherwise, have been perverted into massive suffering and brutality has only confirmed the standard cliche´ about the road to Hell.


AP2008-02-17 01:24:08
Let it be naïve, sir. I was never oriented by intentions (good or bad). Nor is it in my future schedule to pervert anything into suffering and brutality (there's enough of that in the world). That's kind of offensive. Let it be naïve, sir. It's just my opinion. And I'm sorry it isn't bitter.


AP2008-02-17 01:28:43
ps - power is not given nor taken, it's just awaken or anesthetized.


AP2008-02-17 01:33:21
You know, it's not a valid argument in itself to say that something is naïve or rational - the results of it prove it right or wrong, and as you've never seen my actions you cannot judge my opinion.


ps2008-02-17 01:35:42
so leave the christian dogma speculation out of this, I'm not even a christian...


ps22008-02-17 01:40:37
I guess what you call naïve is to have dreams, strong convictions and some kind of trust in the future. If you don't have them, that's really sad. If, on the other hand, you try to put down the ones who have, that's doubly sad.


ps32008-02-17 01:51:09
I can even risk to say, with much certainty, that you're the naïve here. It's so easy to talk about massive suffering and brutality out of history books and do senseless accusations, that I can almost bet you never actually LIVED them. Thank god (or the martians) you didn't. But let the ones who did teach you something about hope.


Sand2008-02-17 07:17:38
I am not accusing anybody of Christianity, merely using the grand hopes of Christianity as an example of how good expectations come to sad ends no matter how marvelous they might be. Communism which was initiated under the hope of universal equality and beneficence to all mankind rejected Christianity totally also very soon came under the recurrent and seemingly inexorable forces of corruption and horrible brutality which seems to have afflicted humanity from the beginning of civilization well into current times. The powers that science has neutrally donated to humanity has done wonderful things for the species but the incessant conversion of this wealth and knowledge to the means of exploitation and repression has finally met the borders of ecological existence and is openly destroying the fundamental basis for the existence of life on the planet as we know it. This is no dark secret anymore, it is seen daily in the destruction of the essential infrastructure for our lives and the humans in control are too stupid to comprehend the oncoming disasters. Hope and prayers and good feelings are not enough. I do not enjoy playing Cassandra's part but it is a time for panic and syrupy thoughts merely make me feel more desperate.


Sand2008-02-17 07:34:23
OPTIMISM

Cynics are, in normal life,
Not to be admired.
They castigate and denigrate
And cannot be inspired,
Shine intellect into the nooks
Revealing lies and scams and crooks,
Write the most despairing books,
Make us dispirited and tired.

But, anyway, humanity
Ignores most buts and ifs.
We have our normal arguments,
Our spats and snarls and tiffs.
But deep inside we can=t deride
That destinies can be defied.
We paste some feathers on our hide
And keep jumping off of cliffs.


AP2008-02-17 20:15:06
Well, something we SURELY do not need are disempowerment homilies and again desperate speeches about how humanity is awful (you are part of it - do you consider yourself awful too, or above humanity?). We much more need GOOD actions which serve as inspiring examples for everyone. I admire much more irony than cynicism, as it is not bitter and much more clever, since humor can change a lot in this world.


AP2008-02-17 20:16:54
About humanity, speak for yourself... lol


AP2008-02-17 20:26:58
Using Christianity or Communism as examples has nothing to do with the subject here, it's mere senseless speculation. I think you have to learn to respect more opinions different of your own, and not insult the ones who have them. You can discuss issues without doing personal attacks and abstruse insinuations, you know?


AP2008-02-17 20:31:06
A bit more of humbleness, sir... pessimism is not cool anymore.


AP2008-02-17 20:41:46
And when it is accompanied by negative action and personal attacks, it certainly isn't.


AP2008-02-18 00:18:44
"Destiny" is a too deterministic word for my taste.


AP2008-02-18 00:23:01
Some people call destiny to bad things and results. I prefer to call destiny to much more beautiful things.


Sand2008-02-18 07:24:46
Your machine-gun multiple responses betrays that I disturb you by my view of humanity. I frankly do not identify with the callous brutality displayed by the bulk of human organizations in power. It seems that the current unresponsiveness of humanity to the obvious approaching ecological disasters and the recurrent mindless massive slaughter by ethnic and religious groups of each other inspires you to some strange admiration. I cannot muster that in myself. Perhaps I no longer am human but all physiological examinations I have undergone have denied that so my intense personal feelings are a mystery to me.


Sand2008-02-18 08:22:04
Pessimism has the perverse advantage in that its disappointment is a delight. I have yet to experience that disappointment.


AP2008-02-18 13:12:32
Excuse me? There again you distort things. Admiration??!! That's the exact opposite of what I said!!! You must be proud you can disturb people in a negative way. I'll stop this discussion here, because that's simply childish.


Sand2008-02-18 13:38:22
Sorry if I assumed your ebullient optimism was the result of your observation of human propensities. It seemed to me it could only result in your admiration of the way people act. My own experience has been that one of Murphy's basic laws was still very strongly in effect:"If anything can go wrong it will." Only eternal caution can somewhat counter dire consequences and that is the essential spirit of pessimism.
If you find that childish, so be it.


AP2008-02-19 22:56:45
My optimism results from admiring life and the tremendous gift it is. I have inside a pessimistic side which results from watching (and being a victim) of some poeple's actions, but I have learned with time that, besides protecting your own self from deception, that pessimism is far from being socially constructive. From that point of view, being a pessimist is too shelfish, either individually or collectively (and I come from a country where pessimism is a culture, as a way of changing nothing and an incentive to conformism and mediocrity). Personally, I don't have energy to waste being a pessimism militant, I prefer to use it in much better ways. And something I can't ignore (because it would be even intellectually dishonest to do so) is that, just as humanity has monsters, it also has beautiful human beings, whose actions amaze and delight me.


Sand2008-02-20 05:41:04
As an artist and a poet and a designer my life is full of admiration for the privilege of being alive and being responsive to the second by second cataract of delight available in color and sound and marvelous intricacy that life presents. But I am full of anger and disappointment at humans in general who are insensitive to these wonderful gifts and spend their incredible skills in disrupting and destroying the fantastic potential of the planet for maintaining us and all the wonderful life that took millions of years and immeasurable pain and suffering of generations of wonderful creatures to create. As a member of a very special species I am fully aware that I and my fellow humans are merely one element in a hugely complex network of life and the ignorant callousness that we daily inflict on our fragile environment and fellow creatures leaves me in continuous pain. It is the death of potential that hurts so and for reasons that seem to me to be totally insane and I can do no more that scream and if my screams disturb you that is all to the better for you should know and understand what horrors we are preparing for ourselves and life in general.


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