Last May, Forrester Research Inc. issued a report saying that the export of service jobs to offshore locations is growing faster than previously thought.
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The firm estimates that 830,000 service jobs in the United States will be lost by 2005, a 40% increase over a projection made two years ago when it was estimated that 588,000 jobs would go overseas. India is the favorite destination for companies moving work offshore.
Ironically, protests and noisy media debate over moving-work offshore is actually making the problem worse, according to an executive at Forrester who says that extensive coverage of offshoring by the media is drawing attention to the tactic as a means to cut costs. Apparently, media focus on the problem is getting more and more companies to look into offshoring as a corporate strategy when they otherwise might not be inclined to do so.
All of this reminds me of an episode in the novel Catch 22, one of the most brilliant books ever written. The novel shows how small absurdities in a bureaucracy, in this case an Army Air Corps. squadron in World War II, can escalate into totally idiotic actions that seem almost reasonable because they occur within a culture conditioned to accept them.
As the story unfolds, Milo Minderbinder, an officer running the mess hall at an airbase, begins wheeling and dealing with small-scale petty larceny and black marketeering that escalates to the point where he ends up running a sizable financial empire on the base. Almost everyone in the squadron has a piece of the action. What becomes entrenched is a culture where everything and everybody can be bought for a price. Eventually, he arranges for pilots from his squadron to bomb their own base on behalf of the Germans. The money the Germans are willing to pay is just too good to turn down.
It is a humorous story built upon characters who lose the ability to tell right from wrong. When money is involved, their ethics go into the trashcan. I think of Catch 22 when I read about today's mania for outsourcing. In the main, today's corporate chieftains are a bunch of Milo Minderbinders willing and eager to bomb their own base if it means money in their pockets.
As mentioned above, India currently is the destination for most outsourcing. In elections held in that country last May, political advertising played a major role in the outcome for the first time in history. Campaign advertisements on television outnumbered ads in every other category except one. When ads for a bug repellent happened to run during the campaign, they outnumbered those for political candidates.
Speaking of everyone having a price, I will devote the remainder of this column to a promotional message. From time to time, most of us need to brush up on the technical basics of an engineering discipline, get updated on current technologies, and find companies supplying hardware or services in that technology. In this regard we would like to call your attention to a feature now available on our Web site.
It is the Electric Motors Reference Center, which provides three types of information. One is Electric Motors 101, which provides fundamental background information on motor technology. Another section contains in-depth articles on various aspects of motor and system characteristics. Rounding out the package is a section listing motor vendors by type, along with contact information and Web addresses. All of this can be accessed at www.electricmotors.machinedesign.comor by using a link at machinedesign.com. You can also sign up to receive another publication, The Motors Monthly newsletter, by going to our Web site and clicking on the Subscribe button.
-- Ronald Khol, Editor
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