The article begins with this intoduction
FOR a quarter-century, American economic policy has assumed that the keys to durable national prosperity are deregulation, free trade and a swift transition to a post-industrial, services-dominated future.
Such policies, advocates say, drive innovation, which leads to enormous labor productivity and wage gains — more than enough, supposedly, to make up for the labor disruptions that accompany free trade and de-industrialization.
article took a "anti free trade stance IMO
How can we actually increase innovation and real productivity? Manufacturing, long slighted by free-market extremists, needs to be promoted, not pushed offshore, since it has historically accounted for the bulk of research and development spending and employs the bulk of American science and technology workers — who in turn spur further innovation and real productivity.
I can probably agree how economists measure productivity could use some work.
I work for megacorp which is quite mega... the only entities in more countries is FIFA and the catholic church- my company makes money "everywhere" and employs people "everywhere".
The software division I am in does some work in Pune (India). I have done some software consulting in Mexico in supporting another large US company. I have worked for other companies which have European R&D units as well.
Here are my conclusions
1) "Remedial" work can be offshored. However work which requires "critical thinking" or being in touch with customers needs to be in the USA.
1) Coming up with initial processes and procedures for software to do xyz needs to be done in USA. Once created, a developer in pune could do QA on them, but few programmers I have interacted with appear to think properly like a US software user to create these from scratch.
2) When doing detailed design work for company A, it was clear the people in Mexico were not capable of thinking a problem thru similar to my experiences with the design engineers in Rochester, NY. Not even close. The designers in Mexico did not put the time in, and did not show the ability to think thru a problem the way I would have expected.
3) Third hand, I have worked with US automotive companies. The designers for that company said most of the big products (full size pickups and SUVs) had 90%+ of the design work done in the USA because that is where the best designers were, that is where the people who were in touch with what the customer wanted in vehicles like that. In general the engineering projects done in Europe were for the smaller cars which did not take as long to design.
Those are 3 isolated data points based on my experience. You can offshore so much, but the truly innovative products for the american consumer are going to be developed by USA engineers IMO.