Global production 2

A tale of two companies, Apple and Foxconn, one U.S. and one Chinese.


After completing this assignment, students should be able to

Duhigg and Bradsher

  • Identify and explain Apple CEO Steve Jobs’s answer to President Obama’s question, “What would it take to make iPhones in the United States?”
  • Identify the impacts of Apple’s GCC on U.S. workers and the U.S. economy.
  • Identify and discuss the implications of the comments from Apple executives that are included in the article.
  • Identify the company that assembles the iPhone.
  • Identify the anecdote referenced by the article’s final sentence.
  • Explain the lessons that this anecdote teaches about Chinese manufacturing.


  • Identify Shenzhen and its role in the global economy.
  • Identify the kinds of workers who are employed in Shenzhen’s factories.
  • Summarize the work day and career of a typical Chinese factory worker.
  • Identify the company  just outside Shenzhen that occupies “roughly as much  space as a major airport” and needs 3,000 pigs a day to feed its workers.
  • Identify and explain the “high-road” and “low-road” reasons that U.S. and Chinese companies are both highly secretive about their relationships.
  • Explain the meaning of the quote, “Supply chain is intellectual property.”
  • Explain the “Nike problem.”


  • Explain how the two videos represent  problems similar to the “Nike problem.”



If the assigned ABC news special isn’t visible below, use the link to view it on YouTube.

Banksy “Couch Gag” on The Simpsons

Reading Guide

Note that this guide is not meant to replace careful study of the assigned texts. Instead, this guide highlights some of the important ideas and information in the reading. To do well on our exams, quizzes, and class discussions, you will need a thorough knowledge of the complete texts.

The articles both refer to a “supply chain.” This is a business term, and it is used to identify part of the global commodity chain (GCC) that we discussed earlier.

“Supply chain” usually refers to the GCC from the point of view of a particular company. Apple’s supply chain, for example, includes all of the companies that Apple deals with directly–including all its contractors for parts, assembly, and services like shipping, advertising, and phone support.

In the case of the iPhone, as Duhigg and Bradsher note, this supply chain includes the manufacturers of hundreds of separate components, ninety percent of which are made outside the United States.


  • China