By Yen-An Cho (’16), Matt Inouye (’16), Ta Kongthaisereekul (’16), Sam Lin (’16), Andy Wang (’16)
For our Applied Management Research field study project, we’ve had the privilege of working with the International Labour Organization, an agency under the United Nations tasked with improving working conditions throughout the world. Our specific project is to conduct a detailed examination of the automotive industry in ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) and research how technology innovation over the next decade will shape the quantity and quality of labor in the region.
Ultimately, we’ll be assisting the ILO in providing recommendations as to how businesses and governments can best prepare for labor shifts in the auto industry.
Getting up to speed on the project has been fascinating thus far: No one on our team had any previous automotive industry experience, so we’ve been working to quickly learn about the market structure and the technology shaping both what goes into a car and the process of manufacturing a car. We’ve taken two trips so far to conduct primary research. These trips have allowed us to speak with industry experts, visit factory sites and participate in conferences and roundtables.
The first research trip took Yen-An and Sam to Singapore and Shanghai in November 2015. While in Singapore, they were able to join in an ILO Future of Work roundtable that brought together industry experts and academics for a discussion about the drivers of labor change in the region. Next, they visited Delphi, an automotive parts supplier in Shanghai, China. There they were able to hear more about Delphi’s manufacturing processes and how robotics and automation are being integrated into the production process.
The next research trip took Matt and Andy to Bangkok, Thailand, to speak on the ground with several auto parts suppliers. It was a fascinating trip — they were able to see first hand the challenges that business owners and operators face and the pressures to adapt to the rapidly changing technology landscape. They were also able to see some amazing manufacturing in process: massive injection molds for plastic car parts, and tires produced from raw rubber all the way to a finished product.
We look back on our progress and find it amazing how much we learned and accomplished in the short period of a couple of months. We’re looking forward to continued research and synthesizing everything we’ve learned to help the ILO prepare the region as its technology landscape transforms.