The Industry choice

Steve Holden steve at
Thu Jan 6 09:42:42 EST 2005

Bulba! wrote:

> On Wed, 5 Jan 2005 11:19:56 +0100, aleaxit at (Alex Martelli)
> wrote:
> You see, I'm not disagreeing with you that your model applies
> _where it applies_. I only disagree that it applies in face of
> stronger forces. Now what kind of forces is dominant in 
> most frequent scenarios would have to be worked out in tedious
> empirical research I think. Which I haven't done, because
> learning some economics is just a hobby to me.
Yes, by all means let's just spout our opinions without any of that 
inconvenient tedious empirical research which might invalidate them.
>>Italian, at most German and French, and not Polish or Russian, closeness
>>to good international airports and other good transportation, closeness
>>to partner firms and potential customers' decision-makers, all appeared
>>to point to Warsaw, if I recall correctly.  Mechanical engineers with
>>some programming experience or viceversa, good translators, and good
>>salespeople with connections in the mechanical industry, are not as
>>ultra-specialized as all that, after all.
> Most sales offices in Warsaw do not employ esp. educated people in
> my impression. OTOH, the carmaking facilities nowadays require 
> more much more know-how and specialized workforce than a sales 
> office does. Or at least that was my impression when I worked at 
> the construction machine manufacturer in Berlin. 
Again you are forming impressions form rather limited evidence: I might 
agree with you about the relative intelligence and education of 
engineers over sales people, but that might be *my* bias showing.

> Capital investments per worker in auto industries are reportedly 
> very high. Simple physical tasks are done largely by machines, 
> like this 100 million Deutschmark costing laser-cutting installation
> that I've seen there, where a pile of iron bars is pulled in at one
> end and the pile of ready components is spitted out of the other end
> (unlike typical thermal cutting,  laser has the advantage of not
> destroying the metal structure adjacent to the cut, so the parts 
> of the machines subject to high-stress are oft produced this way). 
The same is true of plasma-arc cutting for thicker steels, and I believe 
it's still not possible to cut 3-inch stainless with a laser. But what's 
your point?

> Oh, and by the way that installation doesn't get used much.
> Somebody at the office didn't check carefully enough the
> energy prices before ordering it and later someone discovered 
> that off-site specialized cutting firms that take advantage of 
> energy available at low prices at special times in other countries
> can get it produced cheaper. Moving it elsewhere or selling
> is not an option, since it is a specially constructed, low, 50-meters
> long hall that stands inside the huge manufacturing hall of the
> company.
And you are using this example to try and argue that engineers are 
better-educated than sales people? Who sold this installation? Who 
bought it? How much, therefore, is education worth?

> 100 million DM (when 1 DM was worth some half of Euro 
> back then) down the drain. When the company was in rather
> bad financial situation (later I've learned it was finally bought
> out by Americans). Oh well. No big deal.
> I was utterly shocked. Having grown up in Soviet times I have
> been used to seeing precious resources wasted by organizations
> as if resources were growing on trees, but smth like this?! In a
> shining ideal country of Germany?! Unthinkable.
Indeed not. Quite often the brown paper bag is a factor in purchases 
like this. I wouldn't be at all surprised if somebody with a major input 
to the decision-making process retired to a nice place in the country 
shortly afterwards. You appear to be making the mistake of believing 
that people will act in the larger interest, when sadly most individuals 
tend to put their own interests first (some would go as far as to define 
self-interest as the determinant of behavior).
>>The firm I was working for had a consensus decision-making process (even
>>I was involved) and managers (and other employees) and stockholders were
>>mostly the same people -- it wasn't all that large a firm at the time.
>>Nobody needed to practice risk avoidance.  
> Again, you may have had good luck. Where I worked (including
> some places in Germany and UK) it was almost the only factor 
> that seemed to matter to people - they'd do ANYTHING not to 
> take a risky decision, to "pass the buck", not to stick their necks
> out, not to declare doing some work that involved challenges.
Some people are like that. I chose a long time ago to try not to work 
with them whenever I could avoid it and, while that may have had 
negative economic consequences I an convinced it has improved my quality 
of life immensely. Of course, I have no proof for such an assertion.

> [and on, and on, and on ...]

Steve Holden     
Python Web Programming
Holden Web LLC      +1 703 861 4237  +1 800 494 3119

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