In China, Human Costs Are Built Into an iPad

Description:  In the last decade, Apple has become one of the mightiest, richest and most successful companies in the world, in part by mastering global manufacturing. Source: NYTimes.com

Date: Sept. 25, 2012

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Apple is not the only electronics company doing business within a troubling supply system. Bleak working conditions have been documented at factories manufacturing products for Dell, Hewlett-Packard, I.B.M., Lenovo, Motorola, Nokia, Sony, Toshiba and others.

Current and former Apple executives, moreover, say the company has made significant strides in improving factories in recent years. Apple has a supplier code of conduct that details standards on labor issues, safety protections and other topics. The company has mounted a vigorous auditing campaign, and when abuses are discovered, Apple says, corrections are demanded.   READ REST OF STORY 

Questions for discussion:

1. Should consumers be concerned about a product’s supply chain ? Why or why not?

2.  Should anything be done in the case of Apple to correct any problems in their supply chain? What?

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44 thoughts on “In China, Human Costs Are Built Into an iPad

  1. Mark T

    1. Should consumers be concerned about a product’s supply chain ? Why or why not?
    Yes i believe consumers should care but have said that it can be very difficult to look into each company you support when all you want is there product. I believe consumers put alot of trust in the regulations but sometimes consumers do need to there back ground checks on there own.
    2. Should anything be done in the case of Apple to correct any problems in their supply chain? What?
    defiantly Apple being as big as they are they are an example around the world and should take the responsibility. They need to tighten up the safety regulations and procedures including abuse of workers and there time.

    Reply
  2. Emily Gedlaman

    I think there is a reason why so few consumers actually know much about the supply chain of products that they purchase or use or consume: companies draw our attention to things that will naturally distract our attention from that very issue. The features of the product, our enjoyment of it, and even the trends or fads that are attached to products can definitely distract us. In the majority of cases, not much is advertised about how products are made. If they are not being up front about it, or advertising good things, I think we are quite naive to assume that products are being made with all fair labour, trading, and manufacturing laws. Sadly, it’s what things are coming to. And as a whole, people generally accept this. I think in the case of Apple, yes something should be done. This company being huge and wildly successful makes no difference when it comes to the rights of fellow human beings being overlooked.

    Reply
  3. Ruzaan du Plooy

    Yes, I definately think we should be concerned with what is going on the the supply chain. It has become cheaper and more affordable to outsource to different places, hence why most companies go this route. Instead we should encourage what companies such as American Apperal do, which is manufacture there own clothing right from factories within the United States. We have to keep in mind that the people being affected in these outsourced places are still human beings, and should be treated as such. How come these conditions are permitable in those places, but not here? We are all still human, no matter what skin color, race, age, or ethnicity it shouldn’t matter. I guess it comes down to your individual moral compass, whether this is deemed appropraite or not.

    Yes there definately should be a correction plan in place in order to fix the problems within their supply chain. Why would the consumers support a company that allows their workers to work in such conditions, whether those workers be primary or secondary, they are still affiliated with the brand apple. Things that Apple should do is ensure that there are standards and safety checks being regulated daily (to start out), and have someone fly down from head quarters to support the safety claims. Second, Apple should make sure that all of the materials and equipment used is up to par, standardized, work properly, and that the people using these materials/equipment are well versed as to how to use these tools. Apple may be a large profitable company, but a stain like this on their repuation can definately impact them in the long run.

    Reply
  4. Precious Emezieke

    1. Should consumers be concerned about a product’s supply chain ? Why or why not?
    I think consumers should be more than concerned as to how the product they are using is made and the process. We are all humans and it is important that we look out for each other in as much as everybody wants to make money. But unfortunately, we are in a world where nobody cares anymore, everyone is all about themselves ‘me, myself and I”.

    2. Should anything be done in the case of Apple to correct any problems in their supply chain? What?

    I think something should be done to correct Apple’s supply chain problem like how something was done for ‘Nike’. And also Apple is pretty expensive, they make use the Chinese and other countries that produce at a low cost to make their product and sell at an expensive rate. I think governments from this countries and the U.S should make Apple to change their supply chain process. They should come up with regulations for Apple and also make them become responsible for their production employees.

    Reply
  5. Kris Moore

    I think any knowledgeable consumer should be concerned on a products supply chain. It is important to know the steps which took place to get the product from an idea on a piece of paper into your hand. This can be referred to the way in which most people would like to know what kind of food the cows were fed before they eat their steak. Unfortunately consumers are most worried about low prices rather than how the product was made. Take Nike for example, for many years consumers were aware of the poor working conditions their factory workers faced with manufacturing their shoes, however, because Nike makes a great quality product for a fair price consumers would still buy their products. Companies need to be accountable and responsible for the working conditions in which they place their employees. Obviously it is every company’s business model to create the highest quality product for the lowest price possible. This is just simple business logic. However, companies, such as Apple, need to be more aware of the steps in which they receive their goods for their products. Companies need to be socially aware and responsible in order to be considered to be one of the top companies in the world. Obviously Apple is considered to be one of the most popular companies in the modern day but does this make them a good company? If a company has no concern for their employees heath and safety, regardless of the government regulations that the countries they manufacture in then I don’t think that they can be considered a truly great company.

    Reply
  6. Heather Mack

    1. Should consumers be concerned about a product’s supply chain ? Why or why not?
    Consumer’s should be concerned about the product’s supply chain, because if the end consumers do not care about how the product comes to be, or who the creation of the product effects, the company will not change. It is important to know where the products we are buying are coming from and whether or not it is guaranteed that they are safe to use. If Apple’s current supply chain is unsafe, and has lead to the deaths of employees, corrective actions should take place. However, if Apple is not coerced by their ‘cult’ like consumer followers to change, they likely won’t change because they won’t feel as though they have to. Therefore, it is extremely important for consumers to be aware of how a company’s supply chain works.

    2. Should anything be done in the case of Apple to correct any problems in their supply chain? What?
    Yes, Apple should ensure there are certain safety programs instituted in their supply chain that prevents sincere injuries and deaths. All materials used to create their products should be at a high safety standard, and if they are not, the proper safety equipment should be used while working with the equipment. Apple is a major corporation, and even though they have a ‘cult’ like following, a bad reputation regarding the safety of their employees could seriously damage their image and in a competitive market like the technology industry this is something they should try to avoid.

    Reply
  7. Scott Eriksen

    Consumers should absolutely be concerned with supply chain. Lots of people really dont care, they get their awesome apple product and thats it thats all she wrote. Not much thought is given to how that product got in their hands in the first place. The manufacturing and business world is putting a lot more emphasis on supply chain now days, with outcrys of harsh working conditions overseas, and lots of companies are promoting the fact that they are pro CSR in their manufacturing process, or sweatshop free, whatever the case may be. alot of these products that are advertised as having a clean and respectable manufacturing process are being chosen over previously popular brands. Which leads me into the apple case. apple should be very concerned with their supply chain. in the end it boils down to money, and apple is making a ton of it because of the margins they have set. but with lower than standard working conditions and manufacturing process, it wont be long before some company with a great apple alternative but is produced in a great supply chain will take over some shares. Starbucks is a great example of this, as they pay over-market dollar for their coffee beans to ensure a good quality of life for their farmers, woi in turn provide starbucks with an above-average quality product that no other coffee company is getting because nobody wants to pay the premium for the beans. It is a profit driven world, and I think apple needs to take a step back and really assess their values and where they want to be in fifteen years.

    Reply
  8. Joanne

    This has to do with your values as a person. In my eyes I believe that yes we should be concerned with the supply chain. Once again it all boils down to profit making, who is going to benefit and how. Out sourcing has become a norm of practice to reduce costs and increase productivity. We have to remember this affects the people In that country and that is someone’s parent, sibling, relative, friend or fiancé. If we are not in those kind of working standards why should anyone else be?

    Of course something should be done to the supply chain, however once again it boils down to what kind of person you are and the authority you have and how you use it. If I were to be put in such harsh conditions, I would first lobby all factories to come together and work together against the companies to demand better working conditions and fair pricing for productivity to increase safety. Bringing the production to a halt and reminding the people of that country that they are the vessels of the profits that the companies are continuing to receive year after year.

    Reply
  9. Hyunggu Kang

    1. Should consumers be concerned about a product’s supply chain? Why or why not?

    Generally people, who are consumers of goods, do not care about supply chain. Not only supply chain, general consumers do not care about how the product is produced and transported. Why should consumers be concerned about their purchased goods? It is simple, because those will affect their life too, it maybe feel far and distanced from you but truth it is not. A supply chain within companies is becoming a vital aspect and tool that corporations are focusing on. If you look at different angles organization’s supply chain can most important and influential part of the company such as financial, operational, and reputation. Companies should be very concerned with their supply chain such as apple who have factories in China. Human labour, human resource may look like a part of company’s asset and input output however they are more than that, and it is unethical and immoral for China’s factory workers to be treated like this and all. Also Consumers should be aware and concerned. Consumers are the end buyers and should be aware of a company’s supply chain and actions within. Company’s product and that company’s reputation as a good company will lead to act as a beckon, which will distinguish themselves from the other company that doesn’t really care about their employees’ safety. Finally, company knows that consumers won’t care and do not have any concern about a product’s supply chain, however even if they don’t know and don’t care, that will affect the company soon or later.

    Reply
  10. Matthew Helfrich

    Yes consumers should be concerned with the supply chain, but need to be aware of different cultural differences and norms. Going into china with brute force and ignorance is not always the best solution to influence foreign manufactures. That being said, when it comes to safety it is pretty safe to say that safety is a universal standard across the world. Consumers do have the power to influence large corporations like apple to make changes in society, which is apparently in dire need. Consumers have the ability in a free market to purchase or not purchase whatever they like. Approaches to change may be brought on through boycotts, or a more popular approach would be through social media movements. However, there is a lot of loyal consumers as well as consumer who are unaware or do not care about the supply chain.

    I believe it would be extremely beneficial for apple to make strides in influencing the safety and work conditions of it supply chain for a couple reasons. The first being, that Apple is an industry leader and a product with massive brand recognition. If they were to take the first step and publicize their efforts, they would bring on change at a faster rate than ever. This would not be difficult for Apple to do because of the leverage they have over their supply chain. Apple is a very profitable corporation, and being apart of this supply chain is a lucrative position. This gives them great power over their suppliers. The other reason is plain and simple. Corporate Social Responsibility is just good business. Apple has already demonstrated they have the ability to effectively manage supply chain operations, which leads me to believe they would have no problem managing a new social responsibility approach. This will positively help Apple build brand acceptance and positive corporate image around the world.

    Reply
  11. Bryan Litchfield

    Yes consumers should be concerned about a companies supply chain. How many protests and complaints did nike get when people found out about the child sweat shops making there shoes. The issue lies in what can be done about this. I can be as concerned as i want about something but unless im willing to do something about it nothing is going to change, and that is the attitude we all need to have. To be honest i love my mac computer and my iphone so much more than any other phone or computer i have had, and although it is troubling to hear what is going on in there factories i am still probably going to buy apple products because they are a superior product. In this age of internet and social media apple should know that if they are using plants like this to supply there products people will find out, and their name will begin to be looked down upon, and people might even stop buying their products. They need to take this into consideration and step up and do something about this. Although it is harder than it seems because they are not directly in charge of these factories, they still need to put more pressure on factory owners to clean up there act and be more socially responsible.

    Reply
  12. J Hayward

    Consumers should definitely be concerned with the supply chain of a company because it is important that the consumer feels comfortable with how the product is created. When it is an American company that sells products all around the world, it is important that they are creating good business with their manufacturers. Although Apple has created a huge name for themselves and made millions of dollars, as a consumer, i would like to know what they are giving back to their employees and how they make sure factories are using safe procedures and that business is conducted in safe environments. When nothing is regulated, it is easy for the company to over look practices going on to ensure all procedures are being followed. Apple should change its supply change immediatly. It is not right to allow your workers to work in such conditions and be put at risk. If they were put together in the States, this would not have happened and there would be much more focus on the employees. Although we know some companies practice immorally, sometimes it is hard to avoid those companies.

    Reply
  13. Brett Thompson

    I believe that, as consumers, we should be more aware of companies’ supply chains that we support. Corporate social responsibility (CSR), though becoming increasingly more common in North America, barely exists in developing companies that supply and fuel the world’s largest corporations, and it is up to the consumer to let them know that CSR must exist at all levels of production.
    In a perfect world, Apple would thoroughly audit all of its suppliers, and only take on contracts with those that specifically met guidelines according to North American CSR standards. This is obviously costly for developing factories, so Apple should be held responsible to supply loans to these factories in order to create suitable working conditions. Additionally, Apple must recognize that the basis of CSR is based on responsibility, not profit. By this, I mean that margins must be set appropriately and they must accept that with higher production comes higher costs – but monetary costs, not human ones.
    Because Apple is a price-setter, slightly reducing their contribution margin may affect their operations slightly but with such unique products, their competitiveness will not be reduced. By doing so, they will increase hundreds of thousands of workers’ quality of life, and even save lives such as those lost in Foxconn’s situation. This change must all start with the consumers, however.

    Reply
  14. Ryan Gladun

    Consumers should be concerned with a companies supply chain as they make up the last part of the chain. Without consumers, the companies would not be able to survive. If enough customers demand a change, in this case during the manufacturing process, the company, Apple, will have to meet these demands. If Apple does happen to change these manufacturing hazards and dangers, we would all expect higher prices– so as customers, we have to be selective on which problems must be tended to.

    I think the Chinese government must take action to protect its citizens from these conditions. Without consequences, Apple and many other companies that take advantage of these situations will proceed too until they are held accountable.

    Reply
  15. Jesslyn Strand

    Yes I think consumers should be worried about the supply chain. The supply chain is what gets the product to the customer, without addressing any concerns the supply chain could begin to have real problems. In order to get the supply chain working correctly, it must have a smooth flow of movement from the product being made to shipping it to the consumer. By having educated customers, they are able to follow the chain and determine where their products are coming from and how they are assembled. Some companies are just concerned about making money rather than worrying about their overall working conditions for their employees. In the respects of Apple, they need to take another look at their supply chain to determine if making that much money is worth violating some employment standards. By outsourcing most of their production, it does not eliminate them from violation of employee rights. They need to go through each country as an individual in order to determine their existent of the abuse of their supply chain management. By overlooking these issues, it could create a bag image for the company in turn decreasing the overall revenue and customer loyalty. Apple needs to re-evaluate their production and find safer ways to produce their products.

    Reply
  16. Peter Mathon Achuoth

    Should consumers be concerned about the product’s supply chain? Yes consumers should be more concerned than ever before given the ever growing technological competition. Consumers need to know how the product being offered to them was assembled. They also need to know whether or not the product is safe to use. This is because most of the companies supply chain have been showing desire to improve their supply chain working conditions. It seems like some of the companies just do not care whether or not there is something that need to be addressed to improve the quality of the products being produced. All they have in mind is making even a penny. Well there is nothing wrong about making money, however, it is important to put working conditions above everything if the company needs to increase or maitain its current market share. I understand that it could be troublesome for most of the companies to improve on their working conditions and still make good money. However, stiking the balance between improving employees’ working conditions and craving for dollars is important. With respect to Apple, I think something has to be done to improve its employees’ working conditions. The regulators need to look into Apple business practices and determine whether or not Apple has violated some employment standards. The problem, though, is how can regulators execute the move? It is hard to hold Apple accountable if the violations are committed outside the jurisdiction of another country. For example, if Apple underpays or mistreat some of its workers in China, the chinese government would be the one to respond and determine whether or not their employment standards have been violated. So, I think the ultimate solution to such issues should be dealt with by individaul countries.

    Reply
  17. Felistus Kitivi

    Consumers be concerned about a product’s supply chain because it is important to know what you buy comes from. Transparency in the supply chain makes companies more socially responsible. Consumers want to know that people who make their products are certified for safety reasons especially in kids products. They want to know the working conditions affecting the people who make these products. Some companies misuse workers by having them work in unsafe and unregulated buildings, long workers, and low pay. As a consumer I would like to know about this conditions because I want to buy a product from a company I believe in its practices.

    Reply
  18. Aaron Jackson

    Consumers that are very connected to the apple products should be somewhat concerned towards the supply chain. The supply chain is one of the most vital processes in getting the product to consumers, but with ongoing issues within the factories where these products are being assembled could be concerning to its longevity of the product. When it comes to a successful product these companies need cheap labor which china offers like many other companies, but within limits. Companies that do care about their product should also be much on their toes about the human resources that help put those products on the shelf. If the safety aspect of working for Apple has a bad rep it could become detrimental to the name that they have worked so hard to get today. For them to correct these issues, they need to investigate the ongoing safety problems and incidents that have risen and find a solution. If certain chemicals have caused deaths because of explosions, it may be to the companies best interest to eliminate that chemical or find a better safety procedure while this product is in use. If Apple does not show the employees that they are doing whatever is in their power to increase employee satisfaction it may become more difficult to find the labor needed with the high demand of products.

    Reply
  19. Riley Hansen

    Companies using the hashtag on social networking sites allows them to pin point where the want their information group with and what groups of people and conversation it should be with. It allows users to follow a topic and get an idea of what everyone else is talking about. It allows companies to be up to date and reach a large number of people, along with staying in with the latest trends and technologies. Using the hashtag also allows companies to connect with younger audiences they might have otherwise never reached before.
    To market to people in these virtual realms you need to be constantly updating your hashtags and retagging key words daily if not hourly to get your information noticed. With the millions of people using hashtags on twitter for an example, if you searched the hashtag #job, millions of topics would come up pertaining that word, many just being lost into the millions or tweets coming in and burring them. Along with this Facebook gives users free access to Facebook marketplace, where a company can market itself and get itself knows to the users of Facebook. Another feature Facebook has is the ability to pay for pop up ads within Facebook. This lets the ad purchaser place their ad where ever and when ever they would like it to be seen.

    The supply chain is an extremely important aspect of a company, without the smooth movement of the supply chain a company will suffer losses. A customer should know the outline of a company’s supply chain, so that the know how their product was produced, where, and by whom. If a consume finds out their product is manufactured by underage or over worked workers in un safe working conditions, many consumers would not stand for that, and decided to buy from a different company. For an example when some of the population found out Nike had children building their shoes in a factory, some of the population stopped buying from Nike until these conditions changed. So I believe a consumer has the right and should know about the supply chain of a company they are purchasing from.
    Something should absolutely be done in the case of apple. With the vast amount of money apple makes each year, a very small percentage of it could at least make sure safe work environments are provided for their workers, along with given a decent amount of pay for that field of work. Perhaps every apple product should come with a guarantee in the box that it was built by a of age, healthy and well paid worker, in safe conditions. With this Apple would then have to prove to the public that these facts are true by maybe, putting pictures of factory conditions on their website or on a site for the public to see.

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  20. jiabei.chen

    There are many company create their factory in China because china have the huge human recourse, they do not need to pay the high salary. The company’s goal is make the profit, so they do not really care employees’ working condition or their daily life. This is not only the problem for the company but also a problem for the government. As we know, iphone 5s will be almost 700 dollars. In fact, a Chinese worker to assemble a iphone 5s they can only get 5 yuan which means it will be 1/5 of one dollar. In addition, they need to work more than 10 hours per day and more than 40 hours per week. Moreover, they do not have over pay. i think the consumer need to understand how their stuff create. if i know some stuff is illegal to make, i will not to buy it. For example, some countries let children to work in the factory, i will not buy any stuff from the company.
    They should to change the supply chain. even though, Chinese labour cost is low, it not means they can let them to work more hour to destroy their body.I think they need to increase the employees to let them to work in the regular hours. it will increase the cost but it will reduce the bad effect for the company. In addition, they need to create more factory to create the Apple stuff. They need to take responsible of their workers and to make sure they have all the profit that worker should have.

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  21. Nicolle Keim

    A supply chain within companies is becoming a vital aspect and tool that corporations are focusing on. The performance of an organization’s supply chain can influence a company’s financial, operational, and reputation. With this, the supply chain has become an important part in the success of many businesses. Apple should be very concerned with their supply chain and the factories they have in China. It is unethical and morally wrong to for China’s factory workers to be treated like this and all consumers should be aware and concerned. Consumers are the end buyers and should be aware of a company’s supply chain and actions within in.

    Every employee working for Apple or any other company should be able to work in a safe environment. No one wants to working in toxic and dangerous environments that affect their lives. Although supply chains are initially for cost savings, it should not be to the extent that others are put in harm. Safety rules and regulations should be put in place for factories such as these. Apple is a well-recognized brand that has a reputation. If more consumers knew about Apple’s supply chain and factories in China, they would probably think twice about buying another Apple product. I think organizations have a social responsibility to act within an ethical manner and Apple has fallen from this occasion, as many companies have. I believe successful companies such as Apple need to re-evaluate their supply chain. Safety is a main concern in North America and it should also be established when doing business overseas.

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  22. Lance Rosen

    2. Should anything be done in the case of Apple to correct any problems in their supply chain? What?

    Things should definitely be done about the problems in Apple’s supply chain. There are so many things wrong (according to the article) that need to be fixed, I do not know where to start. The main problem is the harsh working conditions of the factories that manufactures Apple products. These need to be fixed. However, it does not stop there. These poor people have to not only put up with these conditions at work, but at home as well. Granted, these factories are very efficient with their production, but, I can not help but wonder how much more efficient these factories would be if their employees were happy. These employees are barely getting their basic physiological needs met (Maslow). If these people were treated better, given a just wage, and had improved living and working conditions, would their efficiency increase? At the risk of losing money, these companies (including Apple) are choosing to turn a blind eye to the reality of the situation in their factories. This begs the question: If these companies were not afraid to spend money on improving the lives and working conditions of their employees, would their investment in human capital yield greater returns? This is obviously a risk they are not willing to take. Something must be done. People are losing their lives so these big companies can make money. The old term ‘out of sight, out of mind’ fits well in this situation. Perhaps the executives of these big companies should spend a few weeks experiencing what their labourers are. Maybe it’s time for an episode of “Undercover Boss – International where these CEOs go to the front lines and see what their big salaries are costing people on the other side of the world.

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  23. Nic Hutchison

    I think consumers should definitely be worried with a companies supply chain, but that if companies have the chance to exploit other countries for major beneficial gains, than they should take the opportunity to. This seperates mediocor companies from large succesful ones like Apple. Frankly if you want to be the best, you have to do whatever it takes. Large companies like Apple can exploit harsh working conditioned areas with cheap labor to keep up and beat their competitors. The consumer can influence a companies supply chain, but the process and effort needed to make a difference is a daunting task, which the majority of the consumers will not show that effort for a change. Increasing the working conditions and wages for the employees on the supply chain will increase the overall cost of Apples products. In the end, even though the average consumer would like to see a companies supply chain more humane, people want great product.

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  24. Shine Landayan

    Initially, consumers won’t be concern about a product’s supply chain specially in the case on Apple since Apple has been loved by many people; but in the same case, people should care about the product’s supply chain since their paying for it. Some people do get curious, just someone checking the nutritional facts of a food. Checking the product’s supply chain is like checking if it’s benefitting you. Now, I think people are paying more for their Apple products than they should. I’m not a hater of Apple since I have Apple products myself, too. But isn’t it unfair that we’re paying for an expensive product from a company that doesn’t really care about their employees’ safety? I understand that they get a lot of product orders from customers everyday and will have to process products as soon as possible, but to consider that Apple is not doing check-ups at their suppliers even though employees are dying and advisors have been advising them to, that just ruined their image to people. I think if Apple wants to get their company better and clean their name, they should start on getting reports from their suppliers regularly, which they don’t usually do, check them one by one and make REAL changes. From there, talk to advisors and do what they will advise.

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  25. Priya Boyal

    I think consumers should be concerned about a products supply chain. Companies should be responsible for ensuring that workers are safe and that the environment is not being harmed. Immoral actions here are only viewed as means of business in other countries, but it is up to consumers to demand change. Of course, without consumers, there is no business. It is in the best interest of the company to ensure that consumers are satisfied and admire everything about a product. If a business is running an immoral supply chain, the only incentive for change is if consumers demand that the factories change, and if they neglect to change it will be reflected through a large decrease in demand. Though consumers are not directly involved in the immoral actions, supporting a product that performs improperly is just another way of reflecting that they are okay with it. I believe that something should be done in the case of Apple. These types of issues are difficult to resolve and drastic change will largely affect apple and its technologies, but it is necessary. In order to change working regulations, it would be in the hands of the government. The government could impose stricter rules and higher standards for factory conditions and ensure workers are being treated correctly. Another way to motivate Apple to change is for consumers to show that they don’t approve of the way the product is being produced. For this to happen, there needs to be more awareness of the problem, this can be done through social media, news, word of mouth, and other communicating methods.

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  26. Daniel Reina

    1. Should consumers be concerned about a product’s supply chain ? Why or why not?
    A supply chain systems takes a raw material to a finished product. As buys we support that supply chain by buying and paying for that product. So, what if we didn’t know that the product we bought came from abusive means. The issue nowadays is that very few really care to find out how that product got to them, and how could one blame them if that information is not easily accessable. Being concerned about a product’s supply chain will advice the consumer what type of system they are supporting. For example, if I was to find out that the diamond’s in my wife’s ring came from little african children’s work, then I would never buy. This is why so many companies drive the attention to other features of the product. Most people do know that companies like Walmart that take prices way down, have used some sketchy means to bring those costs down. Hence, why there has been trouble about the way walmart gets products on their shelves. I think as we as consumers learn where products are coming from, we will be able to have an influence on how the poor people of China and other manufacturing countries are treated at work.

    2. Should anything be done in the case of Apple to correct any problems in their supply chain? What?
    ofcourse. Why would we not solve an issue regarding the well being of our fellow humans. The real questions is how. I believe one way that we can make change happen is creatig awareness of a problem. With social media nowadays, anything can be spread like a plague. We can use the technologies available to us to spread the word. Just as this articles attempts to advice the reader of improper operations in China, in return we can share that information with others through other public means such as FB, twitter, etc.

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  27. Richard Reimer

    Consumers should definitely be worried and concerned about the supply chain of the products they buy. This article reminds us that of the people who are making these products for us; it is showing us some of the conditions that they have to work through to make a bit of money. We are living in a decade where we need to be conscious of the actions big companies are taking. If we can see that these companies are not giving the proper care to the people who are helping them get rich and prestigious, then we cannot keep on buying their products. Many of the big companies export their manufactures to a different country and I believe that the reason is the cheap and efficient labour found in those countries. It is not the willingness to help other regions to evolve it is for their own personal interest as a company. They are powerful and seem to take advantage over the citizens that work hard every day to make a living.
    If we want to fix this situation we need to put pressure on the governments to become stricter on the laws imposed to these companies. There is a need for better human rights laws would offer better protection to the citizens from extensive and hard labour which they are exposed to. The government also need to evaluate their operational plans of the companies before they establish in their country. This would lead to better control and protection of the workers.

    Reply
  28. Anthony

    1. Should consumers be concerned about a product’s supply chain ? Why or why not?
    Consumers should definitely be concerned with any companies supply chain. We live in an increasingly shrinking world. Technologies, communication, and travel have taken a once humongous planet and shrunken it down to something much more manageable and accessible. We need to be globally conscious. If we turn a blind eye to the horrible circumstances in other countries merely because we want newer, faster, better, cheaper products we will eventually experience in some form or another the cost at which these products are made by. It has become incresingliy difficult to know very well who is providing good working conditions and fair wages in third world countries and who is not. We must do our part as consumers to reward those who are making the world a better place by giving them our business. We must also demand that companies who are not improving our world to better their practices. The supply chain of all products should be considered when we are deciding where to spend our valuable consumer dollars.
    2. Should anything be done in the case of Apple to correct any problems in their supply chain? What?
    I think people should demand a change in the unsafe practices of apples supply chain. Also if the Chinese government was more involved in regulating safety in these factories Apple would not get away with such practices. No one should work in an environment where their health and safety is at risk without the proper cautions and safety.

    Reply
  29. Gernot Ruppert

    I think it is very important for People to be concerned about their supply chain of a Company because it is very important to know how the products are made, where the companies are producing it, who has to produce it and what are the conditions for them while producing it. If one of this Points isn’t good enough for the consumer they should stop buying the product. They also can influence the comany by doing this. When they Keep buying the products nothing will ever Change but if the now buy products from other companies the “old” Company must Change in order to be competitive. In the textile industry for example there is already Happening a Little bit of a Change like this. People start to buy better clothes and also companies start to Change their policies and their manufacturing Standards. Also the government starts to involve in this discussion so this Change is triggered from all kinds of directions.

    Yes definitely there should be a Change in the supply chain of apple due to the fact that they have harsh working conditions, too Long working hours, safety Problems and crowded places. The People who have to work under theses conditoins aren’t treated correctly. The consumer can influence this Change by stop buying the products of apple or just spreading Information like in the article about apple around the social media, talk to friends about it and maybe convince them of not buying apple products.

    Reply
  30. Annalise Janhunen

    As a consumer, I feel there should be a degree of concern over the supply chain of a product. It is important to take into consideration the process by which the products we are buying came into being. The question of human rights and ethical behaviour could be raised. Is it ethical for a Western company to use cheap labour if the workers are not being treated fairly and do not work in safe conditions? I believe it is not. Although it is understandable from a business perspective that companies wish to save money by using cheap labour, it is certainly not ethical for them to treat their workers poorly. Proper actions need to be taken in order to improve the supply chains in organizations. Employees from the low end of the totem who are producing the product up to those designing and making company decisions should all be treated with the same standard of respect.

    In the case of Apple using cheap labour and not providing a safe work environment for Chinese workers, there should definitely be corrective actions taken. In order to improve their supply chain they should frequently look into how safe their factories are and make necessary changes to any that seem unsuitable. A company as large as Apple should have the necessary resources in order to do this. After all, if corrective action is taken, Apple will gain customer loyalty as most consumers will be positively impacted by Apple doing this.

    Reply
  31. Justin Quintin

    Absolutely, consumers should be concerned about a products supply chain. At the end of the day, the only people who can really influence large corporations such as Apple are their customers. As a global society, Chinas issues are our issues. These issues have been raised time and time again- from Cokes land grabs in south america for growing sugar cane, to monsanto biochemicals- this is just the latest attrocity happening in the worlds supply chain. I think the biggest reason we shoould be concerned is the fact that there are other options. The robotics industry, as we learned in class, is a rapidly growing industry. A $22 000 dollar robot will last up to 4 years, be more precise, less prone to error, and costs about $3.00/hr to run- roughly the hourly wage of a chinese factory worker. Whats more, this could all be done within the united states. With the focus on squeezing out every nickel and dime at the cost of human life is morally unacceptable in all cultures and countries.

    As mentioned above, the saddest part of this scene is the fact that there are other options- namely roboics. surely there is a robot that can polish iphone cases, and not expose chinese workers to harmful gases. Apple has started to manufacture in the US, but has long way to come. This was more of a publicity stunt than anything. Apple does have a supplier safety report, but the company themselves doesnt take a proactive stance at all- they simply tell the producers what they want to see, and that is that. Apple needs to enforce these policies, not just request them.

    Reply
  32. Jing Li

    It is known that China has cheap labour cost, seems like a world industry manufacture. Many companies manufacture their product in China. Apple as a specific example, design its product in US and make it in China. Chinese workplace condition is bad and workers paid at a very low salary. Even though, under-age workers help to produce the product. I believe that most customers know that fact in China. However, how many of them will take care of the Chinese labour? They just focus on the product itself. What I am thinking, Apple’s fancy stuff makes the customer blind. High technology and good quality products weight more of customers’ purchase value. So customers just ignore it. Customers should be concerned about the product supply chain from a moral perspective. Customer don’t take care of the supply chain would maintain the sell but I do not take that part. However, the issue is something about the labour right and corporate social responsibility. Companies like Apple should pay attention on something outside of their product itself. Maybe working condition is hard to change greatly in China now, but companies can give more profit to their workers. Then, their workers will work harder and establish a good atmosphere. It is also good for establishing good brand image and company reputation. Company like Apple should build a nice relationship with their suppliers and promote its supply chain. A bad manufacturing condition will ruin companies’ reputation and reduce its sell in the future. When customers aware of Apple’s non-responsible behaviour of the labour right in China, people may not buy its product as before.

    Reply
  33. David Zimmer

    Consumers should indeed be concerned and knowledgeable about the supply chains of companies they support. Although consumers should be, most are not. For most consumers, including myself, what is important is quality, price, and practicality. Consumers want products and they want them now, and they want them cheap. Supply chains, and manufacturing are not even considered in purchasing for most. After reading this article I feel that Apple is indeed profit hungry, the care for humans is not on par with that of profit. But I do not think that all the blame should be thrown on Apple or their suppliers like Foxconn for the poor conditions that manufacturing workers are put into. I think much of the blame can go on us as the consumers, who are as product-driven as Apple is profit-driven. If Apple raised the price on the iPad, didn’t come out with a new product for five years, or didn’t have enough stock on release day of a new product, hardcore Apple advocates would go ballistic. And if these outcomes were a result of limiting shifts at Foxconn to, let’s say, 10 hours a day, it would make little difference on the outraged attitude of buyer’s. If anyone reading this article was truly outraged at the treatment of these production employees, then they should relay that through either boycotting Apple products or demanding from them increased auditing and stricter policies on suppliers like Foxconn. There is little chance of Apple doing anything to change what is happening without consumer initiative. One of Apple’s main excuses for how these supplier chains are run is, “Customers want amazing new electronics delivered every year” and they are obliged to live up to this expectation.

    Reply
  34. Taylor Galipeau

    I think as the world becomes more global and stories such as these are told consumers will change their point of view. The article ends with an executive stating that “customers care more about a new iPhone than working conditions in China”. I think that if more people knew about the working conditions in China that would be their top priority. I think a lot of consumers try to be ignorant. They don’t pay attention to current events involving suppliers and therefore they don’t feel bad about their purchases. I also see a change in this philosophy. Like organic and green products are becoming more popular so are locally produced and socially responsibly produced goods. More and more people are researching companies before they purchase their goods, apply for a job, or invest their money in the product. I think in the future it would not only be the right thing to do, but would also be a good business strategy for Apple to focus on increasing supplier relations and placing more regulations on overseas factories. Brand reputation is what makes Apple a leader in the industry. When they pride themselves on quality technology and goods how can that not apply to their supply chain as well? I think Apple needs to re-evaluate their contract with, not only Foxconn, but all of their suppliers. It is clear that working conditions need to improve. If not I hope the media exposes the truth. Losing customers is unfortunately what I think will be the best solution to the problem. I don’t believe Apple and other large companies like it will be willing to work on these awful working conditions until it affects their sales. Consumers need to be aware of these issues otherwise nothing will ever be done of them.

    Reply
  35. matt montpetit

    Consumers should be concerned about a products supply chain. People should care about how a product is made because some companies will use unethical methods on making their products. An example of this is Apple outsourcing to China. Apple might save boat loads of money by doing this, but it is not ethical. They have people working way too long of hours in conditions not fit for work. Consumers should be concerned about this because it is unethical. But the fact of the matter is, people are not concerned about this nor do they think about it because they get the product for cheaper then they would if that product was made in the US. People don’t think about how the product is made, they only care about what it costs and how much satisfaction they get out of it.

    Something should be done in this case. What could be done is Apple could pay these people a little more for the work that they do. They could also make sure that the products they use to clean the ipads and iphones are safe and are not going to kill anyone. They could make sure that their plants are safer to work in, and possibly provide chairs for these people, so that when they are done work they can actually walk home. This may cost Apple some money but I think that the may gain more consumer confidence and a better public image. People might see that Apple is not just a giant, greedy, gluttonous company, people might see that Apple is trying to make them selves more socially responsible. So yes I think that Apple should change some aspects of their supply chain.

    Reply
  36. Candace Dyck

    In China, Human Costs Are Built Into an iPad.
    Consumers who pay top dollar for their products and supply’s should care about where their products are coming from and how they are being made. The articles main message was to expose how a global known company such as Apple is using their supply chain. Being an Apple user and supporter, I had no idea that most of their products, the iPhone and ipad and other devices were being assembled within China. When I first got my Mac Desk top, the packaging that the mouse and keyboard said made in the USA, so I just assumed that it was all made there, starting from raw materials to supplier to manufacturer, distribution, retailer and then me the consumer. I guess this makes me ignorant to what is really going on in the world and if I support certain companies I should learn all the facts.
    What also surprised me when reading the article was that the assembly of Apple products in China had harsh labor conditions, according to the employees who worked in the warehouses there was problems with safety, hazardous waste, falsified records and employees working crazy overtime, with Apple being one of the most profit driven and successful companies in the world, you would think that they would have a better supplier code of ethics or supplier code of conduct. A company like Apple has the ability to make changes for the better, and they should start with the supply chain and make manufacturing more ethical.

    Reply
  37. Nicole Toth

    I believe that consumers should be concerned about a product’s supply chain because if consumers express their concern it will change the way a company, like Apple, conducts business. People want to feel good about purchasing a product and knowing that a product is made at the cost of a human’s safety or life can ultimately turn a consumer away, harming the business. By choosing to buy a particular product we are practicing consumer sovereignty and have the power to influence business decisions. Society is a big stakeholder in business operations and we should be concerned about how our businesses operate.

    Stories like the Foxconn explosion raise ethical issues around Apple and make consumers questions whether they are socially responsible or just profit driven. One would believe that a rich and successful company like Apple would treat their employees better. Knowing that Apple allows: excessive overtime, underage working, harsh working conditions, the improper dispose of hazardous waste, and disregards workers’ health may change the publics opinion of them. I believe articles like this one really damage Apple’s reputation and will drive them to change some of their business practices. Consumers can help correct the problems in Apple’s supply chain by voicing their disapproval and even refusing to buy Apple products.

    Reply
  38. Tina Brown

    Human rights should be important to everyone, when we hear of companies oversees who have very poor standards for workers I think most people are concerned but don’t know what they can do. We need to pressure companies and governments to not do business with companies who have poor standards for workers wages, safety and conditions. How can we demand safe workplaces, fair wages and decent working conditions for ourselves and knowingly buy products made in such a way as to not secure those things for their workers? It is not that we are heartless but that we are not informed!
    Apple had a supplier code of conduct in place, as such a consumer would assume that they enforced it regardless of where in the world the product was made.
    I believe that consumers would be interested and perhaps take action, if there were aware of human rights abuses in a companie’s supply chain, for example when Nike was accused of using child labour in factories. According to Wikipedia:
    During the 1990s, Nike faced criticism for the use of child labor in Cambodia and Pakistan in factories it contracted to manufacture soccer balls. Although Nike took action to curb or at least reduce the practice, they continue to contract their production to companies that operate in areas where inadequate regulation and monitoring make it hard to ensure that child labor is not being used.
    I believe that all companies have a responsibility to enforce a supplier code of conduct and take a firm stance against those who do not conform to their code.

    Reply
  39. Justin Shade

    I feel that consumers should be concerned about a products supply chain. At the present time I believe most consumers are not concerned about the products supply chain. The average consumer is too busy buying the latest technology, keeping up the jones, and not concerned where or how the product was produced. Most consumers are materialistic in nature and really do not care about social factors. It’s a matter of educating the consumer about the social aspect and hope something will be done to improve working conditions. If we keep going down the same road of produce – produce, quality and safety will suffer. In the end everyone will lose.
    Yes something can be done to correct any problems in Apples supply chain. Educating the public through massive PR campaign on the social concerns can be initiated. You don’t have to re-invent the wheel, use the Nike as a case study. You would need the support from all stakeholders implement such a program. Human Resource Management is the most difficult sector to manage in the operation of a business. It is also a critical component in the development of a product. If employees are mistreated or abused because of poor working or improperly compensated morale will be negatively affected which will lead to strikes and revolts. Thus the supply chain suffers and the much needed product is behind schedule or completely shut down. The cost factors and quality will be passed onto the consumer which will create a decrease in demand for the product.

    Reply
  40. Cole Hofman

    Whether a consumer should be concerned about a product’s supply chain comes down to one decision. Do you care about the product or how the product was made? For people who care just about the product, the product is simply the product no matter how it’s made. A burger is a burger it doesn’t matter if half of it is made out of worm meal as long as it’s satisfying. Regardless how you feel about worm meal as long as you have the product you’re happy. However with increasing global social responsibility being expected of corporations it seems that consumers are indeed concerned about the supply chain of the products they buy. Consumers should be concerned as it is there money that contributes to the maintenance of the product’s supply chain. By voting with their wallet so to speak a consumer is able to influence a company’s decisions regarding the supply chain of a product if enough people are heard and vote with their wallet. In Apple’s case any threat to stop dealing with Foxconn is an empty one as they are one of the only manufacturers with enough resources and expertise to meet Apple’s demand. Due to this no matter what Foxconn does that is horrible, Apple can’t effectively change its suppliers’ behaviour. This doesn’t help the fact that Apple suffers from a Halo effect. Where the goodness of their product is transferred to anything else Apple by outsiders, resulting in few believing Apple could do bad and giving Apple very little pressure from outside to change its ways.

    Reply
  41. Tarek Saleh

    It seems that one of the key aspects in producing products nowadays is finding a way to produce thy product in the cheapest way possible. The worst thing is that companies like Apple who are so rich to that point that they can easily afford paying and making sure all the employees correctly. This shows that apple is a bit greedy in the sense just because people are wiling to work in harsh conditions and still produce the products does not mean they should take that route cause if a certain scandal arised then that could hinder their brand image. Take Nike for example, and the bad rep they took by how harsh there employees where treated and how it was rumored that they used children to produce some of their clothing, which is completely unethical. Apple is so scooped in on cutting prices to keep up with competition that they might be using these forms of production as a way, but like I said, I am sure they can find alternative ways to do so, without perhaps destroying their brand image and ultimately ruining their reputation. When it comes to people dieing at the cost of such production, then there has to be a stand against such conditions because at the end of the day we are humans and work is NOT life and certainty should not take your life, but some companies take advantage of those who might be in situations where they take that risk, but in the long run if Apple protects this form of production and takes alternative methods then they will benefit in the long run.

    Reply
  42. Karly Froehlick

    The way a product is manufactured should have an effect on the people purchasing. Apple is able to make so much more profit with their products by not having appropriate working conditions for their products. Companies outsource to save money but should not be taking advantage of these workers. Apple is more then capable to pay acceptable wages to their employees assembling these iphones and other apple products. Companies like Apple that take advantage of sourcing should have be monitored more closing to ensure they are treating all employees fairly and have acceptable working conditions for all employees in every country that they operate in. Apple is so focused on keeping up with the competition that are able to offer their products at a lower cost, but cutting these corners are not necessary appropriate. While Apple is underpaying their employees, they are not lowering their prices with consumers. This shows Apple is a little on the greedy side. They are underpaying employees and pocketing the extra money they make. When employee’s lives are at stake and two lives have already been taken by the working conditions of Apple, the company needs to step up and make some changes. The company is more then responsible for their employees. Apple is a well-known name and a bad reputation is something that could destroy the company. This is something that Apple should really take into consideration and make a change for the better. It could benefit the company, whereas right now the company could possibly destroy its self.

    Reply
  43. Ellen Sparling

    This specific case identifies capitalism in action. Based on this case, I can understand why apple has had issues in the past with their supply chain. It is up to apple to keep up with their competition, and they will do what ever it takes. Finding the cheapest production has caused some controversy, especially with working conditions, and has shone light on deeper issues going on in the supply chain methods being used. I think that the cultural shift we are facing could definitely influence apple’s supply chain decisions in the future. I think that the consumers strength as a stakeholder has proven to strongly influence companies decision making. There is a ongoing pressure to become more socially responsible and implement safe and moral methods, especially on the production side. Considering this cultural shift is still going on, I don’t expect apple to change their production methods overnight. If apple were to start thinking more about the non-economic factors, I feel like it could benefit them in the long run.

    Reply
  44. Melisa Giberson

    Consumers should be concerned with a company’s supply chain. If they don’t express concern then it is likely that the company will not change. Why would Apple change if it i earning a ridiculous amount of money doing business the way that it is. So many consumers support the cult product even knowing what it does, somehow justifying Apple’s choices.
    Apple should definitely change its supply chain. Its products are extremely overpriced, you are paying for the name rather than the quality of the product. Surely with the amount of profit they have they can afford to offer better working conditions to their employees. Their actions have killed and injured several employees making their products. It is not right to place employees in such unsafe conditions. If they were being put together in Canada and this were happening then Apple would be held to higher standards to provide safe working conditions; therefore, they should be required to provide this to its Chinese workers as well. The article said that they were informed of a hazardous work environment – using a poisonous chemical to clean iPhone screens – but still refused to do anything about it. The result was an explosion killing 4 people and injuring 77. There is something seriously wrong with a company that would allow its employees to work in such conditions that lead to someones death even though they could have prevented it, all in the name of money. An iPhone is certainly not worth someone losing their life over.

    Reply

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