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Companies and Countries: Diverging Interests?

While American companies retained their leadership in the computer industry, the United States was losing both production share and employment in the computer industry to Asia. Hardware production in the United States declined as a share of global production between 1985 and 1990 by 22%.

In 1995, U.S. companies accounted for about 65% of the global computer industry, but only about 28% of total production took place on U.S. soil (figure 1-4). By contrast, Singapore has only a handful of successful domestic computer companies, but it produced more than $15 billion worth of computer hardware in 1995, putting it ahead of Germany, Britain, and France.

A good example of the divergence of company and national advantage is seen in the disk drive industry. While U.S. companies dominate the hard disk drive business, very few disk drives are actually manufactured in the United States. Singapore, without a major domestic disk drive company, accounts for nearly half of the worldwide output of disk drives, and most of the rest is located in Malaysia, Thailand, and the Philippines.

Seagate is the leading merchant producer of disk drives in the world, and of its 58,000 employees worldwide in 1995, 48,000 were in Asia. The jobs remaining in the United States are mostly managerial, engineering, and software positions. The number of those jobs is relatively small, but they are precisely the kind of highly paid jobs that many U.S. workers aspire to.

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