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    Exploratory Workshop on the SocIal Impacts of Robotics

16

of a sample of domestic industry being conducted with the support of the National

cience Foundation.(

)

Contrary to widespread assumptions and beliefs, the major

causes of the decreasing international competitiveness of various domestic

industries differ likely to result

widely among in only mild

industries. palliative

Hence, generalized solutions are at best. Also, although decreasing

competitiveness in production efficiency is a major factor such shortcomings are powerfully reinforced, and sometimes

in a even

number of industries; over-shadowed by:

Product designs which are less efficient, less attractive, less trouble- free or less sensitive to changes in consumer preferences; b. Higher unit wage costs resulting from wage rate increases which have out- a.

run gains in output per man-hour;

  • c.

    Higher unit costs of raw materials, energy, capital goods, or investment funds; and

  • d.

    Less aggressive marketing and less responsiveness to customer delivery and servicing needs.

Third, even disadvantages in respective to production efficiency are due to

a variety of causes.

Less advanced technological processes,

and

more

limited

utilization

of

computer-aided

manufacturing

older facilities and robotics have

certainly

been

important

handicaps.

But

it

would

be

a

mistake

to

under-estimate

the

influence

on

strengthening

the

competitiveness

of

various

foreign

producers

of

such

factors

as:

more

aggressive

managerial

demands

for

productivity

improve-

ment;

larger

technical

staffs

under

greater

pressure

and

more

effectively

motivated

to increase technological capabilities; and reliance on longer production runs of a more limited product-mix to help keep capacity utilization rates high.

Fourth, another important contributor to the production efficiency of some foreign producers has been their labor’s greater productive efforts, greater

willingness to accept and maximize utilization of technological advances and

improvements, and greater mobility among tasks. decreasing competitiveness of domestic industries

But on

blaming general

a large share of the declines in the capa-

bilities and motivations of labor tends to be contradicted to some extent by the high quality of output and the apparent cost effectiveness of some foreign-owned

plants ported

in the United States.

This does not mean that all trade unions

the

introduction

of

technological

advances,

have

co–operated

in

have sup- efforts to

raise productivity levels to those achieved by foreign competitors, and have limited ..

(7) The author is Chief Investigator,

The report is scheduled for late 1981.

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