Like 1950s Detroit, Boeing Is Underestimating Emerging Japanese Competition

October 27, 2014


At a welcoming banquet in Japan in the 1980s, Ford Motor F 0% chairman Philip Caldwell received a memorably double-edged compliment. “There is no secret about how we learned to do what we do, Mr. Caldwell,” said the head of Toyota Motor , Eiji Toyoda. “We learned it at the Rouge.”

[By Eamonn Fingleton | October 19, 2014 | Forbes]

Toyoda was referring to Ford’s fabled River Rouge plant in Dearborn, Michigan. In the early days of Japan’s rise, the Detroit auto companies had been famously complacent in helping information-gathering Japanese engineers. Nowhere did the Japanese learn more than at the River Rouge complex.

Now history seems to be repeating itself – this time in America’s ultimate manufacturing stronghold, aerospace. The politico-economic dynamics are déjà vu all over again. The industry is officially “targeted” by the Japanese government. And U.S. corporations seem  to be playing their allotted role to a T – as condescending, complacent buffoons.

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