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19
NOV 12

Comment on John Kay's Article




John Kay recently wrote an article entitled “Fetish for making things ignores real work”.

The point John makes in this piece is, what he calls “manufacturing fetishism – the idea that manufacturing is the central economic activity and everything else is somehow subordinate” is fundamentally wrong. He believes that the design and service behind manufacturing is what truly creates value and that is what deserves recognition. The example used is the Apple iPhone, as the raw material and labour costs involved in manufacturing it are very small, but its design, research involved and “made in China, designed in California”, is what causes it to be a valuable item.

In my view John is confusing manufacturing with production. Manufacturing incorporates all parts of the process in creating a product, from idea conception - driven by market needs, design, research, developments, supply, production, distribution, service provision, sales and marketing – through to its consumption. He is focused on the production element in the all-embracing manufacturing process – semantics maybe but critical to communication on the issues. Equally few in the manufacturing world confuse products and devices, a product is the combination of a device and associated services – maybe semantics again but these are important distinctions.

As the prime mover in the economy there should be a fetish for manufacturing and its growth supported in order to grow the real economy and raise our living standards – as Angus Tait said, there are three ways to make real wealth – grow things, dig things up and make things, on the latter he was not referring to the act of production but the process of manufacturing.
 


tags: john kay, manufacturing, production
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