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Help with AWA evaluation--will gladly help in return [#permalink]
10 May 2010, 19:39
I know it's a lot to read...I'd really appreciate any feedback on either or both essays.
Analysis of Issue
“People often complain that products are not made to last. They feel that making products that wear out fairly quickly wastes both natural and human resources. What they fail to see, however, is that such manufacturing practices keep costs down for the consumer and stimulate demand.”
Which do you find more compelling: the complaint about products that do not last or the response to it? Explain your position using relevant reasons and/or examples drawn from your own experience, observations, or reading.
The issue of whether manufacturing practices should be geared toward producing highly durable products or products that can be expected to wear out more quickly is complex, and there are reasonable arguments that can be made to support either side of this issue. Nonetheless, in my opinion, manufacturing practices that generate products that are “made to last” are, on the whole more desirable than those that generate products that need to be replaced more frequently.
The minimization of material waste is a key factor that supports the manufacturing of products that can endure over the long term. The mass production of goods requires large amounts of raw material-for instance, leather in the case of shoe manufacturing, and metals and plastics in the case of electronics manufacturing. These raw materials can be costly to acquire, and in addition, they are typically finite resources, which can be depleted through excessive consumption. Therefore, manufacturing practices that require less consumption of raw materials over extended time horizons would seem to be generally favorable, both to the manufacturer and to society as a whole.
Just as the manufacturing of products with a high rate of turnover would be expected to result in material waste, it would also be likely to result in the inefficient use of human resources. Clearly, the manpower needed to produce smaller quantities of more durable products is less than the manpower needed to produce larger quantities of less durable products. Thus, in the scenario in which more durable products were being manufactured, compared with the alternative scenario, additional human resources would be available to devote to other business functions (such as those that could lead to technical innovation or the production of other goods).
Taking these considerations into account, then, it would seem that the manufacturing products that maintain their usefulness over an extended period of time is preferable to manufacturing products that are intended to wear out quickly. Products that are “made to last” are presumably associated with less wasting of material and human resources, and this is to the benefit of both manufacturers and society in general.
Analysis of Argument
The following appeared in the editorial section of a corporate newsletter:
“The common notion that workers are generally apathetic about management issues is false, or at least outdated: a recently published survey indicates that 79 percent of the nearly 1,200 workers who responded to survey questionnaires expressed a high level of interest in the topics of corporate restructuring and redesign of benefits programs.”
Discuss how well reasoned you find this argument. In your discussion be sure to analyze the line of reasoning and the use of evidence in the argument. For example, you may need to consider what questionable assumptions underlie the thinking and what alternative explanations or counterexamples might weaken the conclusion. You can also discuss what sort of evidence would strengthen or refute the argument, what changes in the argument would make it more logically sound, and what, if anything, would help you better evaluate its conclusion.
The editorial quoted above claims that in the present day, workers have considerable interest in management issues. To support this claim, the author of the editorial cites data from a survey in which 79% of the 1200 respondents expressed a high level of interest in the topics of corporate restructuring and redesign of benefits programs. However, the link between the cited data and the author’s claim is based on a number of assumptions that are not necessarily accurate, and therefore, the validity of this claim is questionable.
A major factor that detracts from the logical soundness of the author’s argument is that it is not clear whether the respondents to the survey being quoted were representative of workers as a whole. For instance, the survey may have been distributed disproportionately to managers and other higher-level workers (as opposed to workers at lower levels in the corporate structure), and consequently, the results may overstate the actual level of interest in management issues in the employee population as a whole. Moreover, if survey participation was not mandatory, then a selection bias may have been present, since the workers who responded may have been those who were inherently more inclined to have an interest in management issues.
Another issue that weakens the author’s claim is that the survey asked specifically about the issues of corporate restructuring and redesign of benefits programs. A high level of interest in corporate restructuring and benefit programs may not be reflective of a more general interest in management issues (such as corporate strategy and client relations) but may instead stem from the fact that these specific issues have a clearly perceptible impact on the large majority of workers. For example, workers may be interested in corporate restructuring because of its potential effect on the security of their jobs, and likewise, they may have an interest in the redesign of benefits programs because there is a clear connection between these programs and practical, real-world considerations such as insurance coverage and vacation time.
Given the problems outlined in the preceding paragraphs, it would seem that the claim made by the author of the editorial has significant weaknesses. To help address these weaknesses, it would be useful for the author to confirm that the quoted survey involved a representative sample of respondents from all levels of the corporate structure. Furthermore, an expanded survey that assessed respondents’ level of interest in a wider range of management issues would also help to clarify whether the author’s claim is in fact valid.