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Discussion Managing Projects

The US has been a leader in large projects. Bechtel is a large corporation with a huge facility in Gaithersburg, MD, that is known around the world for building bridges over the sea in Korea, nuclear desalination plants to provide drinking water in Saudi Arabia, etc. Access to top technology and materials was one of the strengths. As technology develops elsewhere and materials are provided by a global supply chain, the American corporations that focus on projects are getting increasingly stiff competition from Europe, e.g. Germany, France, and Asia, e.g. Japan, India. In the Project Management chapter you read about Henry Gantt's work in the UK to develop GanttCharts, and the PERT system developed by the US Navy in the development and deployment of the Polaris, the first nuclear missile to be launched from a submarine under the sea. Even today, the competitive edge the US has in projects is in management practices. What can the US do to maintain its competitive advantage?Japan took away that advantage in ship building when they developed the technique of building a supertanker (VLCC) by prefabricating sections in a factory, and adding these sections to the partially built VLCC in the dry dock. Now the US ship building industry is gone. In the late 1980's there were thousands unemployed in New Orleans. Baltimore had Beth Ship which closed in the early 1990's. Can we do something to get it back?The information technology (IT) project industry is dominated by India, the world's largest collection of English-speaking software engineers. Actually, in the IT world the American corporations are not doing too poorly. They have joined the bandwagon and set up huge production facilities in India. Texas Instruments was one of the first in Bangalore. The front end that deals with clients in the US and Europe is still in the US and Europe. This is quite a successful business model and is competitive with the Indian giants like Wipro and Infosys. Discuss all of this.

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