Monday, January 12, 2009
Watching Boeing assemble a 777 in just over four minutes. Cool.
Watching that, who contributed more: "Management," or "labor"?
Impossible to answer. The completed project is impossible without both groups cooperating in achieving the task.
Obviously the engineering talent involved in designing such a complex thing is substantial, as is the managerial skill required to coordinate all aspects of the design, procurement, and assembly of the plane.
However, while not evident in that video, I suspect that there is also substantial technical knowledge and experience required to assemble the plane (not to mention its various components that are acquired from third parties and essentially bolted onto the plane (such as the engines)).
So, both are necessary, and neither by itself is sufficient unless the "management" also did the assembly themselves - which they could probably do, although at a much slower pace (i.e. with much lower efficieny). Of course, reading the immediately preceding sentence again will give you an idea as to which of the two groups is *more* necessary to accomplish the task.
The real determinant as to how much of the income generated by the sale of the plane goes to each of "management" and "labor" (are the engineers management or labor?) - which is what I think is your point - is simply a function of supply and demand. The techinical skills used in assembly are very likely of the sort that can be learned by a much larger portion of the population than the engineering and managerial skills used in the same activity. Therefore, the engineers and managers WILL be paid more.
Whether that is the way things ought to be is a value (and political) judgement and not a market judgement.
The engineers used to have a saying, that an airplane is just a collection of spare parts, held together by paperwork. This is a gesamtkunstausgabe. Without management to arrange finance, contract sales, negotiate purchasing; without the engineers who design; without the assemblers; without the test pilots -- it wouldn't happen.
It was a pleasant surprise to see that it was an Eva Air plane.
Eva is Taiwan's other (China Airlines being the first one) big international carrier. While CA has a pretty bad (understatement) record, Eva has a very good one, and I am happy to give them our business whenever (2x a year now) we cross the Ocean to go over there.