Taiwan: Discussion questions
1. How has ‘land reform’ contributed to the rapid industrialization of Taiwan?
Back in the 1950s the government of Taiwan started to offer yields of land for families to own and operate off of. The land, which was supplied with food/crop, released man power for industry to prosper. As the government distributed the land, the owners took advantage. Taiwan’s rural beginnings lead to industrial wealth like Mr. Wang, shown in the film. These people’s homes acted as factories inside and out. There was originally cheap labor and long hours which allowed Taiwan to offer cheap goods for western markets.
2. What role have ‘Sweat Shops’ and long hours played in Taiwan’s ‘rags to riches’ story?
The cheap labor and long hours of the sweat shops laid the groundwork for the prosperous future of the Taiwanese. This was encouraged by the reforming government at the time. All of these sweat shops were producing cheap goods for Western markets. The work was indeed long and hard but it was a crucial step in Taiwan’s road to riches.
3. The forces unleashed by rapid industrialization brought increased competition for labor in Taiwan. What impact did this increased competition have on wages and the standard of living of the Taiwanese people?
Increased competition meant only the really competitive companies survived. Companies like ACER responded to increased competition with innovation. They invented devices like the first desktop calculator and the pen watch. They were training thousands of engineers every year in order to produce these high tech goods for other markets to buy. The leaders of ACER strive to make their products the best and therefore others rely on them for success.
4. According to the global computer giant ‘ACER’ which is based in Taiwan, what are the keys to Taiwan’s economic success?
Taiwan’s economic success can be credited to the easy access to start a business in the country. Statistics show that 1 in every 6 families have/had their hands in on their own business. In other terms, Taiwan has less bureaucracy and restrictions than other countries and opens up doors for entrepreneurial families. A deregulated economy has opened doors for many men and women.
5. Taiwan has thrived in the global economy by specializing in what they do best! How have they managed to survive and prosper without producing their traditional rural products? Are there any dangers in this approach?
When adults moved into factories and off the rural fields, they could afford to educate their children and therefore prepare them for a promising future in business ventures such as IT. Prosperity can then increase the return on the education. A good analogy they used was that the parents developed the boxes on the shelves and the kids produced the goods and software inside. Taiwan is constantly exposed to foreign competition which they take advantage of.
6. What role has globalization played in the increased wealth and improved political freedom of the people of Taiwan?
Taiwan is a democracy, unlike 40 years ago when it was a dictatorship. There was a rapid transformation after the fall of their dictatorship. In the 1980s, Taiwan started to produce high tech gadgetry and the middle class started to rise and gain more freedom whether it be politics or economic rights. These laid the foundation for their stable democracy. Some even venture to call this Americanization. Taiwan has credited the businesses that have produced the best around the world as they work to adapt and expand (ie. Starbucks).
Vietnam: Watching the Program: Discussion questions
7. What limits are placed on the employment of children in Nike factories in Vietnam?
They do not employ any children under the age of 18 for footwear and age 16 for apparel. Child labor was outlawed in Vietnam in 1988 which allowed more room to educate the youth.
What penalties are self-imposed by Nike on its factories if under-aged workers are discovered on site?
The factory is responsible to pay the money for that child to complete school and continue paying them their wage.
8. Using the table that follows compare the life and conditions of Vietnamese factory workers working for Nike with the conditions of workers on farms or in State owned enterprises? What conclusions can you make from this?
The business is good and Nike and doesn’t show any signs of letting down. The management of the company is also viewed as a strong aspect. Employees of Nike, who formerly worked on the farm, weren’t getting paid as much as on the farm- now they are getting as much as 5x more. By hearing these people interviewed and seeing how pleased they are, it is difficult to see what the anti-globalists are so stressed out about when it comes to companies like Nike. They seem to be “doing the right thing.”
9. What negative impacts for less developed countries and their workers can come from anti-globalization groups promoting boycotts of goods produced by multinationals such as Nike?
It has the threat of scaring them away from businesses such as Nike when really it can benefit their economy. These anti-globalization groups do not see what Nike has done for the people of Vietnam. The rumors and perceptions they feed the public makes Nike look bad.
10. How has the workplace practices of Nike impacted positively on other workplaces in Vietnam?
Nike’s growth in Vietnam has helped to stimulate the economy. Other workplaces look to model themselves off of them. The perception of Nike from the public is that they have a very good management, they have a clean and safe workplace, and they have very high employee satisfaction. All of this leads to increased output and increased profits.
11. How has Nike encouraged the growth of small businesses in Vietnam?
Nike encourages others to start business in Vietnam by distributing loans to get them going. Many have prospered from this and business is now strong for them.
12. Will multinationals leave countries such as Vietnam once wage rates improve? What is the reaction of multinationals to this sort of argument? In the film, one man points out that Nike has been in countries like Thailand and Indonesia for 20 years. The productivity has gone up just as the wages have gone up. The people of Nike expect the same thing to occur in Vietnam. Even if they move on, Nike has played a pivotal role in developing the Vietnamese economy.
Kenya : Watching the Program: Discussion questions
13. What factors are present within the Kenyan economy that discourage economic growth and improved living standards?
Kenya closed its doors to globalization. The Kenyan government has never given farmers property rights. Land owners are not even allowed to build on their own land and develop it. All rights go to the government. Export restrictions create a lot of poverty. The poverty is due to the lack of reform.
14. What industries are portrayed as booming industries within the Kenyan economy? Why have they shown signs of success?
The mobile phone industry is booming. The reason they have shown signs of success is because of their cheap prices and high demand. Also the secondhand clothing market is exposed to globalization and has led to their success.
15. What are subsidies, tariffs and import duties? What role does their imposition by developed countries play in limiting growth prospects and the adoption of ‘market capitalism’ in the less developed world?
The government has begun to tax businesses like the secondhand clothing markets and therefore restrict them from gaining significant profits. Also, countries have set tariffs on a majority of agricultural goods Kenya has to offer them. This restricts exports for Kenya. However there are some European countries and some of the Americas that specifically have low tariffs on Kenya’s flower markets and allow Kenya to thrive there. The farmers also have subsidies on their crop restricting export to other markets outside of the country. Tariffs keep goods out and subsidies destroy markets on the homeland.
16. How do opponents of globalization, by their actions in the developed world, hinder the ability of less developed countries to improve living standards?
Countries like Kenya don’t have the ability to compete in foreign markets because of the restrictions they face such as subsidies, tariffs, and import duties. Western civilization is shutting them and others out. We refuse to trade freely with goods such as agriculture and textiles. By dropping subsidies and tariffs, we could massively reduce the poverty in Africa.