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NIKE, PART II: OREGONIAN GOES ON-SIGHT AND TALKS WITH KNIGHT

          In Portland, Jeff Manning, who spent a month in Asia
     examining Nike and other companies' business practices,
     debuted part one of his three-part series on Sunday that
     included a "rare" interview with Nike Chair Phil Knight. 
     Manning wrote that Nike products "more than doubled" over
     the past three years, "forcing the company and its
     subcontractors to crank up production.  That, in turn,
     increased the heat on workers and, in some cases, led to
     outright abuse.  The resulting backlash promises to dog Nike
     well into the 21st century."  Manning: "Nike has become an
     international incident."  Knight is "by turns furious and
     philosophical" abouth the criticism: "For whatever reason,
     we've been the poster boy on globalization.  That's a very
     emotional topic" (Portland OREGONIAN, 11/9).
          WORKING HISTORY: Manning traced Nike's working
     relationships with Asian factories and wrote that by '97,
     "that network spanned 33 countries on four continents and
     had presented Nike with a complex set of issues, many
     cultural differences and occupational health standards."  In
     the interview, Knight said the labor controversy is not
     hurting business, even with a 20% drop in stock price since
     January 1.  Knight: "I don't attribute that to the fact that
     we're getting any sort of resistance from our core
     customer."  Nike officials say that critics are "unfairly
     singling out their company and are distorting" the issue. 
     Knight: "Nike creates a lot of emotion.  A lot of that
     emotion is positive.  But there's a flip side to that. ...
     The people who are turned off by the emotion that we
     generate really want to believe these things.  They
     basically view us as a rebel that should be taken down." 
     Manning: "As serious as Nike's image problem has become, the
     company has no plans to change its hugely profitable
     subcontracting strategy.  The cost-cutting expertise of the
     subcontractors produces profit margins and cash that
     domestic manufactures find hard to match" (OREGONIAN, 11/9).

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