Trade

Episode 400: What Two Pasta Factories Tell Us About The Italian Economy

Calandrea at work.

Calandrea at work. Robert Smith/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Robert Smith/NPR

A decade ago, the Barilla pasta factory in Foggia, Italy, had a big problem with people skipping work. The absentee rate was around 10 percent.

People called in sick all the time, typically on Mondays, or on days when there was a big soccer game.

Foggia is in southern Italy. Barilla's big factory in northern Italy had a much lower absentee rate. This is not surprising; there's a huge economic gap between southern and northern Italy. It's like two different countries.

Barilla execs told Nicola Calandrea, the manager of the Foggia plant, that they would close the factory unless he brought the absenteeism rate down.

Calandrea decided that to save the factory, he had to change the culture. On today's show, we visit the factory and hear how Calandrea made it work.

For More: How A Pasta Factory Got People To Show Up For Work

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