Duane Helleloid, Ph.D.
Duane Helleloid is an Associate Professor and Chair, Department of Management, at the University of North Dakota. He previously held faculty appointments at The Stockholm School of Economics, The University of Maryland, The Norwegian School of Management, Rigas Ekonomikas Augstskola, The University of Connecticut, and Towson University. He also taught courses for the University of Shanghai for Science and Technology and the Norwegian School of Economics and Business Administration. His research interests are in the area of strategic decision making under conditions of high uncertainty. He holds a PhD from the University of Washington.
For the past several decades, labor-intensive manufacturing of textiles and clothing has shifted from higher wage countries to lower wage countries, and in the process helped bring jobs and economic growth to increasingly poorer countries. With advances in technology and automation, however, that regular shift to the next country with lower pay levels may be coming to an end.
In the 1980s and 1990s, a series of studies in the United States showed that workers at semiconductor manufacturing facilities had abnormally high rates of miscarriages. The US industry responded by trying to eliminate many of the most noxious chemicals, improve working conditions, and shifting semiconductor manufacturing to other countries. More recently, the handling of highly toxic chemicals in semiconductor plants has also been associated with a number of other health problems, including cancer, infertility, and birth defects in the children of male workers.
An obsession with building factories that make "things" that could be more efficiently produced in other countries could be counter-productive to improving the economic health of working-class Americans. The highest paying jobs, and the most valued added, come from the early stages or product design and development, and the latter stages of customer service and support. Policies that would encourage companies to invest in low-margin manufacturing operations, rather than other activities, could hurt their overall competitiveness and lead to prices increases for U.S. consumers.
Caterpillar has been a symbol of U.S. manufacturing worldwide, with its equipment in use in probably every country. The company is also known for its ability to deliver parts to repair the equipment, wherever it is being used. Where the profits on those parts should be booked, and taxes paid, however, is now under scrutiny.
Norway has high taxes on most cars, easily doubling the price of a new car. And even though the country is rich with oil, the price at the pump is around $7 a gallon. Electricity, however, is relatively inexpensive, and electric vehicles are exempt from most tolls. With these sorts of governmental policies, it is not surprising that Norway has the highest per-capita adoption of electric vehicles.