Building computers: The US builds its own computers, rather than importing them. The IT revolution has had a direct impact on US manufacturing via the electronics sector.
Using computers: The insatiable demand for increasingly faster computing has led to major productivity increases, for example through CAD/CAM, factory automation or CNC machine tools.
Clustering: Now a favourite buzzword of UK policy makers, the Americans have been doing this for years. It helps create good supply chain cooperation, and a pool of skilled, relevant labour.
Collaboration: US clusters tend to be loose and spread out geographically by UK standards, but create the community element by collaborative working.
Japanese success: The threat of being overtaken by Japanese industry, which offered lower costs and quality, was a major spur back in the late 1970s. Lean manufacturing followed.
No pain, no gain: People really believe this. Since the mid-1980s, managers have taken tough decisions, closed inefficient plants and switched to other activities, creating millions of jobs.
Investment: Serious money was spent on CAD/CAM, CNC, flexible manufacturing and robots. As a result the capital stock is twice as high for US workers as it is for those in the UK.
Funding: US firms benefit from easier access to venture and equity capital, and banks are more willing to lend to small companies in the US.
R&D: The US has more favourable tax treatment of research and development spending than in the UK, with reward given to large companies. In the UK, only smaller enterprises benefit.
E-business: Integration of design and engineering through the supply chain is more advanced in the US than in the UK, shortening lead times and reducing costs. Looking ahead, this could allow the US to widen the gap even further.
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