Can sharing the benefits of technical change speed up the diffusion of cost saving innovations and make an important Pakistani export industry more competitive? This is the question the Erick Veerhogen Director of Columbia’s Center for Development and Economic Policy (CDEP) will address during Tuesday’s Department Seminar, February 23rd, 4-5.15pm in E-530 Dealy. Professor Veerhogen is Vice Dean at Columbia’s School of International Public Administration (SIPA) and Director of the Center for Development and Economic Policy (CDEP), a development research group that conducted the soccer ball innovation incentives experiments.
One of the largest soccer ball exporter in the mid-1990s, Pakistan lost ground to China post 2000 (Figure 1). A FIFA video in the last panel shows the 2010 FIFA World Cup Adidas Jabulani match ball being produced in an Addidas Factory in In Organizational barriers to technology adoption: evidence from soccer-ball producers in Pakistan Professor Veerhogen and his coauthors explore the process of cost saving innovation in the Pakistani soccer ball industry. A new technology proposed by Veerhogen and collaborators increases the number of pentagons that can be cut from a rectangular sheet of material “by implementing the densest packing of pentagons in a plane known to mathematicians.” “The most common soccer-ball design combines 20 hexagonal and 12 pentagonal panels” (see Figure 2 below). The panels are cut from rectangular sheets of an artificial leather called rexine, typically by bringing a hydraulic press down on a hand-held metal die. This new die reduces material cost by about 7% yielding a 1% drop in overall soccer ball costs. Yet producers in the manufacturing city Sialkot were slow to adopt this new cost saving technology. Experiments suggest the technology diffusion process was slowed by resistance from both workers and employers. Yet even small incentives to spread the gains among workers and employers led to faster adoption of the new technology. The famous Bucky Ball designed by R. Buckminster Fuller is shown as Photo #1 below, Figure 3 shows workers in a soccer ball factory in Sialkot, Pakistan. Note that while workers in Bangladesh’s garment export industry are mainly women, almost all of the skilled Sialkot cutters are men. Figures 3 and 5 show various stages in the production process. The final photo takes you to a FIFA video shows the official 2010 World Cup Adidas Jabulani match ball being manufactured in China: “All Official Match Balls for the 2010 FIFA World Cup have the same weight and the same circumference and are therefore always the same size. Production capacity for the Official Match Ball for South Africa: 1760 balls per day..” Compared to Pakistan the production process in China is quite automated, though fundamental aspects of the process are similar, including hexagon stamping dies. The production process is quite global. Assembled in China, the balls use latex bladders made in India along with thermoplastic polyurethane-elastomer from Taiwan and ethylene vinyl acetate, isotropic polyester/cotton fabric, glue, and ink from China.”