What Europe can Teach Uncle Sam:
Volkswagen should be a basket case. It makes cars and trucks in high-cost Germany, has a highly unionised workforce who work a 28.8 hour week for up to £23 [US$33.57] an hour, and its largest shareholder is the state government of Lower Saxony, owning 18.6% of the company’s shares.
Yet Volkswagen remains Europe’s largest car maker and has increased its market share from 16% to 19% since 1993 – largely at the expense of Ford and General Motors. Even in the US, its market share has jumped by 2% over the same period. It is the most internationalised car company in the world. It has revived the near-bankrupt Czech car manufacturer Skoda. Its Passats and Golfs, redesigned VW Beetle and range of new cars are the envy of its rivals.
And, Dave Winer (an American) asks, in all seriousness: Is business the purpose of our civilization, or does civilization have some other purpose that business supports?
The above story has some very interesting anecdotes about Nokia, as well. Nokia started the 1990s worrying about how its toilet-paper sales would hold up in its main market — the former Soviet Union.
I get tired of the Rah-Rah politicking for capitalism that goes on in the U.S. Its nice to get an antidote to that once in a while. Maybe those European Social Democrats know something, after all.