Punctuality in Ecuador

Posted on August 7, 2016 • Filed under: Ecuador, Ecuador Trivia, Social Issues

Newyorker.com (2004) YJames Surowiecki..At high noon last October 1st, the citizens of Ecuador did something they’d never dreamed possible: they synchronized their watches. In doing so, they embarked on a Campaña Contra la Impuntualidad, a national crusade against lateness. A group called Participacíon Ciudadana had orchestrated the initiative in order to combat Ecuadorans’ notoriously cavalier attitude toward time. The group enlisted the country’s only Olympic gold medallist, the race-walker Jefferson Pérez, as a spokesman, plastered cities and villages with posters (“Inject yourself each morning with a dose of responsibility, respect, and discipline”), and persuaded companies to bar tardy workers from meetings. Even President Lucio Gutiérrez, infamously unpunctual, vowed to participate. His spokesman, going on television to announce this vow, arrived at the studio, needless to say, several minutes late.

Such a campaign may seem farcical—no more critical to a country’s national interest than a crusade against poor spelling or bad breath—but it arose out of a basic economic fact: punctuality pays. According to one study, chronic lateness costs Ecuador $2.5 billion a year—hardly small change in a country with a gross domestic product of just twenty-four billion dollars. The fundamental challenge for a modern economy is to coördinate the actions of millions of independent people so that goods may be produced and services delivered as efficiently as possible. It’s a lot easier to do this when people are where they’re supposed to be when they’re supposed to be there. This is especially true in light of recent innovations such as just-in-time manufacturing. Dell computer’s suppliers have to be able to deliver parts to Dell’s factories within ninety minutes. Under those conditions, “I’ll get to it later” won’t do. Read Article


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