11th April 2012

CRESC Apple Business Model workshop

Senate House, University of London Russell Square, London WC1E 7HU

Wednesday 25th April 2012

9.30am to 5.30pm


After the death of Steve Jobs, there was new speculation about the prospects of continuing success for Apple Inc. as the world’s most valuable company; and continued disagreement about whether ‘the Apple Business Model’ was shorthand for possibilities of prosperity and /or dire problems arising from long trans-pacific chains with subcontracted manufacture in China.

This workshop has a double aim. First, we aim to be more analytic about the Apple Inc’s company business model without assuming this is representative or transferable. Researchers will present argument and evidence about Apple’s multiple sources of advantage in manufacturing, sourcing, branding and architecture and focus on the consequences especially for the supply chain in China. Second, we aim to make the connection with broader academic and practitioner debates about the outcomes of globalization and financialization, specifically about where the good jobs and skills have gone and the effects of shareholder value in the high-income countries.

A keynote presentation from the distinguished political economist Bill Lazonick will engage these issues followed by a broader discussion of the role of supermarket retailers as sponsors of vertical disintegration. We also include panel discussion by managers from firms committed to manufacturing in the UK followed by journalists looking back on the day.

9.15 welcome

9.30     Apple Inc’s brilliant success (4 x 15 minute presentations + Q&A )

  • Overview/ business model and point concept of value: Julie Froud and Karel Williams (MBS + CRESC)
  • Crowd sourcing: Debra Howcroft ( MBS + CRESC)
  • Groovy like the Marketing: Liz McFall ( Open University + CRESC) 
  • Apple and retailers: Johnna Montgomerie ( CRESC)

10.45  Coffee

11.15   Outsourced (to China) (3 X 20 minute presentations + Q&A)

  • Financialisation, power and Chinese cost ratios: Sukhdev Johal + Adam Leaver (MBS + CRESC)
  • A Chinese activist’s point of view: Jenny Chan (Royal Holloway)
  • Outsourcing: Colin Haslam (University of Herts) 

12.30 -1.15 lunch

1.15   Keynote

  • Apple Inc’s Business Model: a foundation for sustainable prosperity? Bill Lazonick (University of Massachusetts, Lowell)
  • Response and overview: Aditya Chakrabortty (Guardian)

2.10   Managers on why/why not manufacture in the UK  (1 hour discussion with 5 minute opening statements)

  • Chair:  Max Gosney (Works Management)
  • Panellists (tbc)

3.15 The power of retailers + the definition of CSR (2X 20  minute presentations+ Q&A)

  • Pigs to pork: predatory contractualism and suppliers: Andrew Bowman (CRESC)
  • What retailers give back: the case of Enfield: Alan Sitkin (European Business School, London)

4.10 Tea

4.40   How Finance gets its way

  • •    The finance and value complex: Mick Moran and Karel Williams (CRESC and MBS)

5.10  Roundtable Retrospect

2 journalists 2 academics

5.30 close + drinks