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GM Culture Crisis OL-342 Milestone One Amanda Fritz
Introduction Automotive manufacturers have faced countless issues over the years, but few have led to exposed cultural problems the way in which General Motors (GM) suffered. Jaclyn Trop (2016), a writer for U.S. News, identifies 8 of the largest automotive recalls in history. General Motors makes the list three times, tying for sixth place between their ignition switch issue of 2014 and the control arm of 1981. The problem with the ignition switch is that it would abruptly slip into accessory mode, which ultimately cuts power to the engine and resulted the death of 124 people (Isidore, 2015). In Tim Kuppler’s 2014 article The GM Culture Crisis , there were several examples of the GM culture exposed through investigation and Mary Barra’s Town Hall meeting. Such things as the GM Salute, the GM Nod and conflicting messages of safety versus cost from upper management teams all played into the culture which led to the lack of action during the ignition switch issue. Once the issue reached its peak and Mary Barra took charge, she exemplified all that should have been done previously. Taking action by setting up the Speak Up for Safety program, adding safety investigators and restructuring the decision-making process for safety issues. While all of these actions certainly play into the culture of the workplace, they don’t rectify it completely and Barra failed to actually discuss the culture of GM during the meeting and throughout the Valukas Report. However, the investigator’s report had a recommendations section that included the statement “to ensure that a commitment to consumer safety is a prominent part of the Company’s culture and is embedded within the fabric of the organizations” (Kuppler, 2014). So, while GM certainly had issues with culture before the recall, only time will tell if they are truly prepared for cultural change.
Organizational Modeling Understanding the way an organization is modeled is of great value when examining the culture case of GM. Most sources indicate five major models: autocratic, custodial, supportive, collegial, and system. There are a few other models out there, but most of them are focused on very specific details that don’t quite encompass the entire organization, such as the Empirical models that focus on the activities that are performed by employees. Each of these five primary models has a part to play in history, but GM’s model seems out of date considering the drastic changes we’ve seen in the last 20 years throughout the economy. Current Organizational Model The custodial model seems to fit the GM culture almost exclusively. “The basis of this model is economic resources with a managerial orientation of money” ( “Models of Organizational Behaviour” , N.D.). This model did promote better benefits to employees, but also a sense of dependence to the employer, which isn’t necessarily conducive to efficiency. An employee who feels that, financially, they are incapable of leaving a business to pursue something that they truly enjoy isn’t going to do their best or most productive work. Job security

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