Patrice Riemens on Sun, 16 Dec 2007 07:28:57 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> Internalisation @ Google

When I was over-wintering in Kolkata (still Calcutta then) in the early
'90s I had become pally with Raj Kamal Jha, who was then assistant editor
of the Eastern India paper of records, The Statesman. That august
institution, housed in a palatial edifice near the Esplanade, boasted not
only all things you would associate with a newspaper operation, but also a
full service restaurant, a laundry, a bike repair shop, and who knows how
many anciliary services. I was over-awed (RKJ also told me that him
ordering a cuppa would set 5 staffers in motion till his order reached the
central kitchen and came back).

well, this kind of set-up became complete anathema to the bean counters
from the 80s onwards, preaching the gospel of outsourcing and
concentrating on a firm's so-called core business: all the rest had to be
ruthlessly eliminated and replaced by the 'market'. Exactly what Ronald
Coase, in his famous pre-war article "The Nature of the Firm" (*) was
arguing enterprise were not, and should not, be doing. I was agast, and
before long quality of service and production were going South, not to
speak of the quality of life in the organisations affected by this
deliterious trend (almost all).

But lo and behold, Vint Cerf, resident genius at Google is visiting
Switzerland for the opening of the Google Zurich plant, and today's Basler
Zeitung week end magazine has a big interview with him: appears that life
in the Zurich G-capsule is entirely self-contained: kindergarten, laundry,
gym, name it and Google provides it for itself & employees.

So 'internalisation' is back in force, and that with the most 'edgy'
branch of industry: IT. See all the 'campuses' maintained by the big
players on both sides of the Ocean and up in India. One wonders how comes.
Back to reason? Or simply another demonstration of the rampant dualism of
our times. After all, as everyone (should) know, socialism is for the
Rich. (There is this lady at Google who came in as masseuse, to destress
the employees. Having cashed in her options, she's now millionaire, thank


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