November 1, 2016

MarkOhIn April 2013, more than one thousand Bangladeshi garment workers died when the Rana Plaza building collapsed. Considered to be the deadliest garment factory accident in history, the tragic event led to worldwide condemnation of many Western clothing companies. After all, brands like H&M, Walmart and Zara had long pushed producers in Bangladesh’s growing garment industry to make clothes faster and cheaper. While this allowed retailers to set low prices at their stores, the focus on efficiency forced Bangladesh’s factories Continue reading

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October 25, 2016

MicheleM.FIsraeli entrepreneur Yekutiel Sherman had a great idea for a product: a selfie stick that folded seamlessly into the back of a smartphone’s case. He spent a year carefully designing his idea, producing prototypes and securing small investments from family and friends. By December 2015 Sherman launched a Kickstarter campaign in order to finish funding the item, now called Stikbox. But while the project immediately attracted investors, his popular crowdfunding campaign also caught the attention of Chinese bootleg manufacturers. Within Continue reading

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October 20, 2016

CorttoAccording to a study conducted by the Manufacturing Institute, over the next decade American workers will miss out on two million industrial jobs due to lack of training. For years the Obama administration has tried to close this growing skills gap by promoting German-style apprenticeships that provide on-the-job education for young workers. In Germany roughly half of all high school graduates opt for these intense training programs, not least of all because they are virtually guaranteed employment at the end. Continue reading

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August 29, 2016

As the Trans-Pacific Partnership inches closer to ratification in the U.S. and abroad, the debate surrounding free trade agreements like it has grown more intense. This video takes a look at one of the first of these tariff-eliminating multinational deals, NAFTA, and the ways that it has remained controversial.

Questions:

 

  1. Do free trade deals like NAFTA or TPP provide enough of an economic benefit to justify their potentially negative effects on the U.S. job market?
  2. How do tariffs encourage Continue reading
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As a bit of an antidote to the tragic violence and uncertainty that has dominated recent headlines, this short, fun video looks at the last producer of disco balls in the U.S. and the ways they’re struggling to stay relevant.

 

 

Questions:

  1. Why would you purchase a Kentucky-made disco ball for $125 when one produced in China runs for as little as $30? 
  1. What stage of the product life cycle does the disco ball currently fall under?

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March 14, 2016

In 2005 the website Etsy launched as an online marketplace where artisans across the country could sell their wares. The Brooklyn-based company quickly established itself as a destination for handcrafted items that shoppers wouldn’t find in any stores. As the years progressed Etsy’s army of craft sellers grew into the thousands, with women accounting for a whopping 85 percent of them. The company marked a major milestone in 2012 when it became a certified benefit corporation. By 2015 Etsy’s stock Continue reading

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March 2, 2016

For decades China’s industrial economy grew at a breakneck pace thanks to heavy investment from the state. This expansive age may be at an end, however. Over the last few years, demand for Chinese goods has dropped and its stock market has become increasingly unpredictable. Analysts say that China built up far too much manufacturing infrastructure that has now become an excessive drain on resources. As a result, last week the Chinese government announced the drastic measures it would take Continue reading

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February 19, 2016

For years manufacturers around the world have taken advantage of the efficiency and speed of robotic labor. But these mechanical monstrosities aren’t polite or funny like the droids in a Star Wars movie. Instead, industrial robots are big, clunky pieces of equipment that have no regard for humans. As a result, most factories have separate rooms for robots that people are prohibited from entering. Many countries have even passed laws requiring the separation of automated and human labor. After all, Continue reading

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February 1, 2016

For many inventors, creating a machine that’s functional as well as popular can feel like striking gold, even if the actual material reward for their work isn’t exactly golden. That’s the situation Shane Chen found himself in since inventing the “hoverboard,” a two-wheeled, Segway-like vehicle that doesn’t quite float but has nevertheless been flying off the shelves. Unfortunately for Chen, many consumers are buying hoverboards from companies that have not paid him for his patented design. Instead, consumers are taking Continue reading

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January 19, 2016

Although vinyl records sales are higher than they have been in decades, companies are having trouble meeting demand due to their reliance on old, antiquated machinery.

https://youtu.be/mHJQJbrvOd0

Questions:

  1. Will demand for vinyl records drop if companies fail to maintain a steady supply?
  2. With music and movie streaming sites now commonplace, do vinyl records and other forms of physical media have a long term future?

 

From The New York Times

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