Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
Certainly Europe does not have to abandon its' social model or the welfare state, Thatcher-style, to set things right, as many Anglo-American and/or business commentators would have us believe.

I agree. I've worked with EU firms that export to the US... from what I saw there were very few 'social burdens'... but a number of the firms didn't have all the systems in place they should have (IT being only one and not the most important in my opinion)... to take full advantage of the typically better educated and experienced workforce you have in the western part of the EU... Eastern Europe might be a bit different...

If there is a 'structural flaw' in the European macro-model it might be the distrust between labor & management (probably earned over the years)... From what I saw it was much more adversarial than I see in most US work forces.

Now having said that - I didn't get to tour the European factories... just met a number of folks who came over to the states to work with me... and of course hundreds of conversations on the phone. But I doubt my impressions are that far off base... You could sense it in conversations with the higher ups & the lower downs... there was a lot of tension.

Another thing about the 'propaganda'... managers run the plants & offices, 'workers' do not... if the plants & offices don't 'perform'... managers get their heads whacked... that is unless they can find a suitable scape goat... Now, they can't blame their superiors (the Directors & stockholders)... and they can't blame the customers... they can't even blame the suppliers, though that is often given a try (hard to make that stick since mgmt selects the suppliers)... So who to blame?

Government & labor... the two groups that can't or won't bark back. Fat easy targets...

I think Coleman will find A LOT of evidence that this kind of blame game is going on in Europe... and that there aren't as many problems with labor as there are problems with ineffective & incompetent management just like over here in the NAFTA Zone...


"On the Internet, nobody knows you're a dog." - Peter Steiner

by dryfly (jjwhodat at hotmail dot com) on Tue Jun 21st, 2005 at 03:02:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
not knowing anything about macro-economics, just wanted to chime in and rehash a lingustic prejudice.  Germans f.e are considered rude in their normal conversations, while Americans are always considered to be more friendly. In Germany, in my experience, that has nothing to do with how you view your superior on a personal level. These two levels can be quite seperate.

Next linguistic prejudice: Germans are famed for voicing negative aspects (critical voicing) and an extensive moan-culture.

It would be interesting to compare levels of mobbing - to get a grip on worker satisfaction. Also, the retention of employement is much greater, at least in Germany as the first poster states, that would at least anecdotally contradict your assumption, that being critical or moany automatically means not wanting to be in that place, quite the contrary.

Where you able to speak with your European collegues in their language?  

by PeWi on Wed Jun 22nd, 2005 at 05:49:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Language... interesting, I should have thought of that... might be.

One of the companies was British with operations on the continent as well... The Brits ran it and I spoke with them in English.

The other company I had a lot of conversations with  had multiple plants in Europe sprinkled about... both West & East... But my contact was almost entirely with Germans and I do not speak German at all... a little French but no German. So we spoke English.

The funny thing is the Brits were the ones that whined the most to me about their superiors & underlings... there was a lot of tension. But they mostly did what our customers asked after a lot of complaining about how it will raise hell in the factory.

The Germans didn't complain to me much... they held their cards pretty close. When asked to do something difficult they just bluntly said my request couldn't be done a certain way due to 'internal resistance' and wouldn't comment further. I learned later that my requests were the equivalent of the handgrenade in the board room... but I didn't learn that until later.

I am not saying that the US doesn't have similar issues - just not as pronounced... at least not here in the Midwestern & Western part of the US where I call on accounts... Maybe in the Eastern US where things are more 'formal' and more 'socially structured'... but it is so hard to say based on my limited anacdotal evidence.

Good point PeWi...

"On the Internet, nobody knows you're a dog." - Peter Steiner

by dryfly (jjwhodat at hotmail dot com) on Wed Jun 22nd, 2005 at 08:28:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks dryfly.

bluntly, very good. hehe. {Beavis sound effect}

One of my favorite German words is: Betriebsklimaforschung. That was the field Theodore Wiesengrund Adorno was working in as a sociologist the States before returning to Germany. Not that I ever read anything by him from that time. I just like the word.

It is certainly an interesting world. The rigidity of the German personal sphere can also be seen in Du and Sie. It can sometimes be years before you call someone by his/her first name and even then, you might still call them with the more formal Sie. That has nothing to do with class or even familiarity, but with social distance. It is more a sign of respect for the other person personal life.
My father knew people for over thirty years. He married their daughters, baptized their children, buried their fathers, visited for birthdays; in other words knew them intimately and still, it would be the furthest on his mind to call them by their first names.

There are even ceremonies, that celebrate the shedding of the Sie. Auf Bruderschaft/ Schwesternschaft trinken. (involves Alcohol and the inter-twining of arms)

by PeWi on Wed Jun 22nd, 2005 at 12:06:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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