SOURCE: The Boston Consulting Group

October 25, 2007 12:33 ET

Global Business Advisor Tells Firms to Avoid the Blame Game; 'Low Cost Has Its Own Cost: The Need for Extra Vigilance'

BCG Expert Urges American and Other Western Business Leaders to Take Responsibility for Quality and Safety

CHICAGO, IL--(Marketwire - October 25, 2007) - A leading international business consultant says Western executives should stop blaming Chinese suppliers and vendors for unsafe and shoddy products and accept responsibility themselves.

Harold L. Sirkin, a Chicago-based senior partner of The Boston Consulting Group (BCG), says American and other Western business leaders need to understand that product quality and safety are their responsibility, not somebody else's, and they need to take all necessary steps to make sure that every product carrying their brand lives up to their company's standards.

In a bylined article distributed globally by The New York Times Syndicate's "Global Business Perspectives," Sirkin writes that "consumers will continue to demand a smorgasbord of products, at all price levels," and that China and other low-cost countries in Asia, Latin America, Eastern Europe, and the Caribbean and Pacific will continue to produce a growing share of the world's manufacturing output. "This trend is irreversible," he says, "and all of the negative headlines -- those that are justified, and those that reflect either breathless hyperbole or political agendas -- will not stop this process.

"What we need to stop, however," he says, "is the false belief that government bureaucracies are responsible for keeping people safe. Government safety agencies can help. But the real responsibility lies in the corporate boardroom and with managers along the supply chain.

"... Just because a company's supply chain may stretch 6,000 miles from headquarters doesn't absolve it of its responsibilities."

"Low cost has its own cost: the need for extra vigilance," the BCG global operations expert says. "This might mean additional testing. This might mean having quality control supervisors at every plant. This might mean helping your suppliers develop (and enforce) better practices among their suppliers. Given the huge overall savings companies are achieving through outsourcing, it's a small -- but necessary -- price to pay.

"The lesson for global businesses is simple: You are responsible for monitoring your suppliers, no matter how far they are from corporate headquarters. You are responsible for the safety and quality of the products that carry your brand. You are responsible for testing and certifying the accuracy of those tests. Don't blame the supplier. Don't point your finger at the Chinese... or... anybody else. They can't and shouldn't do your job for you. Don't play the blame game."

Note: Harold L. Sirkin is a Chicago-based senior partner of The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and global leader of its Operations practice. His latest book, "Globality: Competing with Everyone from Everywhere for Everything," will be published by Business Plus next spring.

To request a copy of Sirkin's article or to arrange an interview with him, please contact Eric Gregoire at + 1 617-854-4570 or

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