Downstreams and Upstreams..

Discussion in 'English Only' started by Beautiful Princess, Sep 2, 2005.

  1. I would like to ask what is the meaning of downstreams and upstreams in an organization or corporate thing?

    Do you have an idea?
  2. foxfirebrand

    foxfirebrand Senior Member

    The Northern Rockies
    Southern AE greatly modified by a 1st-generation Scottish-American mother, and growing up abroad.
    In general, "upstream and downstream" is an image implying a hierarchy-- which in the corporate workplace I'd say would also be called a "pecking order." The big bird pecks the next smaller bird on the head, who in turn pecks at the bird who's a bit shorter than him, and so on down the line. Another image is a "totem pole," with those at the top being the elite, and those at the bottom carrying the weight.

    You asked for ideas, and this is just my guess. The expressions could also have something to do with "career tracks." But in general when this figure of speech is used, the good stuff is upstream, the bad stuff downstream. Just look at New Orleans lately.
  3. Thanks, foxfirebrand... It says they began to outsource non-core operations to upstream and downstream partner firms whose capabilities complemented their own..

    Does that mean they extending both upward and downward in terms of hierarchy?

    so upstream and downstream partner means... upwards and downwards partners... Will upstreams pertains to international partners and downstreams to those chain of partners of lower hierarchy?
  4. foxfirebrand

    foxfirebrand Senior Member

    The Northern Rockies
    Southern AE greatly modified by a 1st-generation Scottish-American mother, and growing up abroad.
    It could, but if you're talking about patterns involving production, it could simply mean a flow from beginning to end-- the end being a finished process or product ready for market? I don't know, I'm simply guessing until someone who does know comes along.

    Some corporations are "vertically" organized, so the streams in question could have to do with raw materials at one end and finished goods at the other. Or the subsidiaries at each stage of production-- though the reference to "outsourcing" makes me wonder.
  5. thanks a lot for your suggestions friend... God Bless..
  6. Kelly B

    Kelly B Senior Member

    USA English
    In the industry where I worked, upstream referred to the early phases of product development, while downstream was the period close to launch of the product.
    My area of expertise was manufacturability; I wanted to be involved as far upstream as possible, so that I had some influence on the design before it was finalized.

    The terms are also used within manufacturing: the suppliers who are the furthest upstream are, for example, the aluminum refiner and plastic manufacturer; the extruding company and the plastic molder are somewhere in the middle; the final assembling and packaging jobs are downstream. In my industry, the assembly jobs were done in house, while the upstream jobs, being more specialized, were outsourced.
  7. panjandrum

    panjandrum Occasional Moderator

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    I'm with Kelly B (if that's OK).

    To me this is all to do with a production process of some kind - possibly involving a number of different organisations. The process may be considered to flow from the rawest of raw materials through to the final finished product.

    Upstream is towards the raw material. Downstream is towards the final product.
  8. to sum it up... upstream pertains to materials/designs usually for productions.. usually benchmarked... globally accepted/competitive products which are rare for example or service of better quality or better option which are outsourced/subcontracted... while downstream pertains to finished products... those that needs final touches for examples.. those that needs control... say branding if that's for products... or the main office that handles control if outsourcing for services... or the like... products for assembly...

    thanks.. a lot.. I appreciate it...
  9. nycphotography

    nycphotography Senior Member

    I do be learnin stuff
    John-Paul Miller, NYC
    I would generalize upstream and downstream as being either EARLIER or LATER in some conceptual flow or process.

    How you visualize the organization of the process (or the stream) will dictate whether something is upstream or downstream.

    To understand how an org chart / hierarchy fits this descrition... visualize the flow of "orders" from the top down.
  10. cuchuflete

    cuchuflete Senior Member

    Maine, EEUU
    Kelly and Panj and NYCPhotog have all given accurate and clear answers. I'll provide another example.

    Upstream: In product development for software--this included contracting with experts from a large computer hardware/software company to select the best software components and techniques for overall software system design. In effect, a portion of the design process was outsourced.

    Midstream (I hope this isn't a neologism!)- Some of the coding or programming was done by in-house staff, but much was given to contractors...another form of outsourcing.

    Downstream- in product development-- "localization" or translation of the user interface was contracted out.

    Way downstream -post-development--some of the sales training was contracted out to training firms with expertise in enterprise software

    About as far downstream as one can go without being in the ocean: delivery to end users/customers-- some product order fulfillment was handled by third party logistics firms, so-called 3PLs....another form of outsourcing.

    After the stream had flowed into the sea: post-sale customer technical support: some of the telephone support services were outsourced.

    Sorry for the extended stream of consciousness...


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