Is Manufacturing the Key to Innovation?

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Republican presidential candidate former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney discusses jobs and the economy with workers and guests at the Missouri Valley Steel factory on December 16, 2011. (Scott Olson/Getty Images/Getty)

The revival of American manufacturing has been a constant refrain in presidential campaigns, and 2012 is no exception.

"We need a strong manufacturing base in America if we want a strong middle class in America, if we want good jobs, if we want a high standard of living," Republican Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan said at an October 13, 2012 rally in the old steel town of Youngstown, Ohio.  

At his 2012 State of the Union Address, President Obama laid out a blueprint for the American economy, with manufacturing at its base: "We have a huge opportunity, at this moment, to bring manufacturing back. But we have to seize it," President Obama explained. He went on to say, "I want to speak about how we move forward, and lay out a blueprint for an economy that’s built to last — an economy built on American manufacturing, American energy, skills for American workers, and a renewal of American values."

Politicians may want to increase manufacturing jobs, to make manufacturing a cornerstone of the American economy, but, since the 1970s, business has moved in a different direction, to technology, to research and development, to a service-based economy.

Does American manufacturing have a future? In a new book, "Producing Prosperity: Why America Needs a Manufacturing Renaissance," Harvard Business School professors Gary Pisano and Willy Shih argue that it must — and that manufacturing is the key to American innovation.

Earlier this month, The Takeaway gathered seven voters for a conversation about the 2012 election on October 6, 2012. One of those voters, John Rampe, is the President of Torque Transmission, a manufacturing company in Fairport Harbor, Ohio. John explains why he believes manufacturing is the key to innovation in the future, and discusses what he's hoping to hear from President Obama and Governor Romney in tonight's debate.


Gary P. Pisano and Willy Shih

Produced by:

Jillian Weinberger

Comments [1]

Larry Fisher from Brooklyn, N.Y.

How about private Manufacturing companies applying for grants for technological improvements of their company to the Government. The company applies, shows what it needs and the Government sending over an engineer to see if the improvement is viable as well as a marketing person to see if the product would sell. Not everybody gets the grant, but you could re-apply the next year.

I worked 25 years in American Collectibles. I bought and sold quality items that were made for Americans during the Golden Age of manufacturing...The world on the internet loved buying and still buy American quality items. As we move forward with technology, we need to remember our manufacturing quality of the past

Oct. 16 2012 12:15 PM

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