Discuss specific challenges that managers face in each of the following industries that were less important five years ago.
An important challenge in the apparel industry today was also present five years ago but has become increasingly important in the interim (and looks to become increasingly important still in the years to come) is that of the difficulty that American businesses have in competing with companies overseas. This is arguably true in all fields but is especially so in those fields in which there is a high need for long hours of relatively unskilled labor.
Making clothes is a very labor-intensive process and all such industries (in both heavy and light manufacturing) are experiencing problems in today's marketplace. The decision this month of Levi Strauss to close its last American plant and to have all of its garments produced overseas is emblematic of the fact that it may simply no longer be possible for American firms to mass-produce garments using American workers.
B. The entertainment industry is a complex group of a variety of different industries so it is difficult to make any proclamation that is true for all elements of it. But it is in fact this diversity that is in some ways working against it, for the entertainment field is becoming each day increasingly fragmented, so much so that it is becoming more and more difficult for any one part of it to draw enough of an audience to pay for the high costs associated with producing so many types of entertainment.
This problem will only get worse over the next several years as there are more and more television stations to choose from and more types of electronic entertainment - from new types of computer games to new ways in which the internet can be used. Those in more traditional forms of entertainment might have believed that they has weathered the most significant challenges put forth by the internet in the past few years, but as the internet becomes increasingly "normalized" (i.e. A part of more and more people's everyday activities) there will be increasing diversity within the Internet itself (such as chat rooms and - one of the latest forms of internet entertainment, the blog) that draw audiences away from traditional forms of entertainment.
C. The automotive industry is on the one hand facing the same kinds of pressures that the apparel industry is, with companies based in the United States (as well as other First World nations) finding it increasingly difficult to manufacture the goods that they design and distribute close to home. Even when American firms export their manufacturing divisions overseas they often find it difficult to compete in terms of labor costs.
Automotive firms are also facing increasing pressure to develop alternative fuels cars, something which was just beginning to be the case five years ago, and the pressure to gamble on which technology will become the dominant one to replace gas-driven cars is substantial.
2. Discuss the five major dimensions of the general environment that one might address as a manager for New York University over the next five years.
As a manager at a major university a number of challenges would be likely to present themselves over the next five years. The first is the issue of a diverse workforce. Universities have traditionally been at the forefront of affirmative action programs and other business practices that have encouraged a diverse workforce. However, recent court cases have made the future of affirmative action much more problematic even as universities still push to create inclusive workforces.
A second issue that is likely to come up in the next five years is the problem of funding pensions. The United States is currently poised at the tip of a demographic bubble with the number of retirees about to outnumber those who are still in the workforce. This presents a significant public policy challenge in terms of how to fund the Social Security program but it presents a significant challenge for individual employers as well when faced with the need to balance funding current employee needs against those of past employees.
A related issue that a manager may well face is the aging of the population. While this will probably not yet have a significant impact on an employer like New York University in the next five years, this period of time will begin to see the effect of a demographically shrinking workforce as the members of the Baby Boom generation begin to retire. This means that managers will face greater and greater competition in hiring the most qualified candidates. This in turn means that those managers will have to offer packages that are increasingly attractive.
A fourth challenge arises from both this increased competition to hire the best people as well as (and this of course may well be related) a rising tide of expectations about the benefits that workers expect to receive. No longer are workers interested in salary only - or even salary and traditional benefits such as healthcare. They are also interested in a range of other benefits (such as flextime, the ability to telecommute, time off to do volunteer work, benefits for domestic partners, the ability to continue the education while still working).
Managers must, as a result, become increasingly skilled at crafting work schedules and benefits packages that offer a range of options that are specialized to the individual needs of each worker.
Finally, managers must deal with the ever-increasing level of technological sophistication that is demanded of every employee and find ways to ensure a balance between human capital and the capacity - and demands - of the machines that are central to so much of the work process today. Computers become with each new version ever more sophisticated, allowing workers to do more and more things with them, but also eating up an ever-increasing percentage of each worker's time with learning how to coax the desired result out of the machine. Making computers our servants and not our masters will be a continuing task for managers for years to come.
3. Discuss the arguments for and against social responsibility facing managers today in the following three industries.
A. It is difficult to see how a manager working in the field of tobacco in the 21st century can justify the ethics of doing so. Of course, each person has to make a living and many of us support other members of our family and so often a job, especially one that pays well, seems to be its own justification.
But we are also responsible for the consequences of the decisions that we make and to choose to decide to work within the field of tobacco is a decision that directly contributes to the deaths of innocent people - both the smokers who become addicted to tobacco and the thousands of others who become sick (and in some cases die) because of the effects of secondhand smoke.
Tobacco has no redeeming aspects and so there can be no justification for working for tobacco companies, a condition that is made even more clear by the fact that tobacco companies have deliberately mislead the public for years about the dangers of their products and continue to use every possible legal stalling tactic to avoid paying benefits to those harmed by smoking.
B. There are certainly questions of ethical responsibility about working in the entertainment field, which produces a great deal of work that is highly violent. It is not clear from the research that has been done on violent entertainment to what extent watching violent movies or playing violent video games prompts individuals to act out the violent thoughts that these forms of entertainment tend to produce.
Because of this, it might be justifiable to participate in their making. However, it is clear that entertainment products with a more productive message (ones that argue for social justice, or for environmental protections or even to enjoy what one has in life without constantly trying to get more) send a more positive message than mega-death-mutilator games.
There is good entertainment as well as bad, moral as well as amoral and there is no fault in working for the former. The latter is not as pernicious as smoking, certainly, but it helps to degrade the overall climate of our culture. If one spends one's life helping right-wing radio hosts to spew hate and dissension, is this truly the kind of legacy that one wishes to leave?
C. Alcohol can be used dangerously, but it can also be used to create wonderful meals. The manager in the field of alcohol must work with his or her company to ensure that messages about responsible drinking get to the audiences that need to hear them (especially college men) and ensure that distributors of alcohol are indeed living up to the legal requirements placed on them not to sell to underage drinkers.
But alcohol as an industry is not immoral and a manager should not feel qualms…