GMAT Essay Topic 411 - The following appeared as part of an annual report sent to stockholders by Olympic Foods, a processor of frozen foods. "Over time, the costs of processing go down because as organizations learn how to do things better, they become more efficient. In color film processing, for example, the cost of a 3-by-5-inch print fell from 50 cents for five-day service in 1970 to 20 cents for one-day service in 1984. The same principle applies to the processing of food. And since Olympic Foods will soon celebrate its twenty-fifth birthday, we can expect that our long experience will enable us to minimize costs and thus maximize profits." Discuss how well reasoned you find this argument. In your discussion be sure to analyze the line of reasoning and the use of evidence in the argument. For example, you may need to consider what questionable assumptions underlie the thinking and what alternative explanations or counterexamples might weaken the conclusion. You can also discuss what sort of evidence would strengthen or refute the argument, what changes in the argument would make it more logically sound, and what, if anything, would help you better evaluate its conclusion
Olympic food claims that the cost of products decreases by time because organizations improve and learn how to be more efficient. Olympic foods will soon be celebrating its 25th birthday, therefore the long experience of the company will be able to minimize costs. At first glance, the argument seems somewhat convincing, nut further reflection reveals that it leaves out some significant factors that should be addressed to substantiate the argument.
First of all, the author compares the color film industry with food processing industry. He commits the fallacy of overgeneralization, although the cost of color film did decrease from 50 cents to 20 cents in 14 years, there is no evidence suggesting that the same will happen in food processing industry. Further more there is no evidence that indicates the cost decrease in color film industry is related to an improvement in production skills, it could be other factors. For example, a decrease in labor cost, raw material cost or policy changes.
Second, even if it were true that long experience leads to improvement, there is no guarantee a decrease in cost will happen. There are lots of other factors that can effect the cost of a production, in this argument the author seems to consider the other factors as unchanged. However, that is very unlikely. Factors such as raw material cost and labor cost may all greatly influence the total cost of a product. If food shortage occurs, the price of raw material will increase causing the production cost to increase as well. The same goes to labor cost, a change in policy that guarantees minimum wage will also lead to an increase in production cost.
Therefore the conclusion of this argument lacks credibility because the evidence cited in the analysis does not lend strong support to the argument To strengthen the argument the author would have to provide more concrete evidence regarding the changes of cost in food processing industry and whether these changes are related to the improvement in industry or not.
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