Alfred P Sloan: Cost Centres:
According to Toma, Saseanu and Marinescu (2014), for understanding the ways Alfred P.Sloan had altered the system of corporate through the prologue of some methods like cost centres, one needs to comprehend the concept of Cost Centre. Cost Centre can be defined as a department existing within an organization that does not openly add to profit of any sort but which still costs the organization money for working. It can be stated that profit centres have the ability in making direct profit involvement within an organization, a cost centre does it in indirect fashion. This sort of department is the first to be targeted during the time of downsizing for the nature of its operations. There is existence of two sorts of cost centres; one being the production cost centres where there are products that are being manufactured or developed. The other being the service cost centres where there is existence of services offered to other cost centres. However, the significance of the cost centres cannot be destabilized. Cost Centre can be stated as the department and division existing within a business which is invested from the margin of profit adding to the organizational cost yet causative to the factor of profit directly and indirectly.
Implications in General Motors:
General Motors has been the world’s most significant company. The system of management established by Alfred Sloan at GM during the 1920s became the foundation for the multidivisional contemporary corporation (Wu, Li and Zhang 2015). Troubled by Henry Ford, Sloan built an organization that had the ability of running itself, sovereign of the whims of a single man. During 1940, at the time when Peter Drucker shammed the management theory, he preferred GM as his matter of subject. In ‘The Concept of Corporation’, Drucker commended the decentralization of GM, but disparaged it for delighting its workers as a feudal cost centre instead of taking it as a source of knowledge. Through the Sloan’s techniques of innovation, application of cost centre and leadership, GM became one of the biggest industrial corporation. This exasperated GM, though the car firms from Japan took a lesson out it. Toyota’s management doctrine along with ‘lean production’ that relied on putting workers into teams and the delivery of ‘just-in-time’ are popular concepts of Sloanism. In case of decentralization, atleast in the case of General Motors, generating several divisions for competing with each other has just fallen out of trend. Each segment of GM has its own engineering and marketing, GM acquired redundant overheads. GM’s chairman, Jack Smith stated that as the whole world opened itself up to free trade, Sloan’s system cannot be stated to be competitive.
According to Dennis (2016), the concept of cost centre did revolutionize the General Motors management system. General Motors Corporation was prepared into a multidivisional corporation with each of the corporations having various departments, each being responsible for the general management and the responsibilities of the product. The Departments were investigated for the routine of the divisions from the sales and effectiveness stand point and formulating the measures of financial performance as indicators for tracking. There have been existences of other indicators and measures that are being used like the ROI and various financial metrics. Capital measure became the important gauge in effectively measuring the cost centre performance.
The relevance of the process cannot be undermined after the passing of so many decades of General Motors under the efficient leadership of Alfred P Sloan in progressing towards success. It relocated the factor of responsibility down from the corporate into the divisions of operations. Each GM divisions focused on the regular operational activities with the departmental managers accountable for the loss and profit factor. This would be enabling Sloan in transferring the corporate management into an authentic profession ascertaining the standard that one is being obligated to put the enterprise’s interest ahead of the others. Each department has been working towards attaining better economies of scale, contributing towards the enterprise growth. These departments have been working with a budget allocated for them, in turn there is lessening in the inventory size, lowering the cost.
Its relevance cannot be undermined, though the model in itself has undergone radical changes. Henry Ford’s system was a failure that motivated and inspired Sloan in reforming an organization that administered by itself. This clarified the decentralized structure of GM, with the independent operating divisions, its inflexible system of control and command, where every aspect has been designed along with the vertical integration, with GM undertaking the making of all elements that went into cars. However, as per Kassim (2014), an inflexible use of the approach resulted in the technique of cost centre being put into use for backfiring the decentralization process. GM created different divisions that competed with each other; something that is not the inclination for any sort of denial.
Sloan curved the corporate office of GM into a strong centralized corporate construction that was not only accomplished but also broadly used in the present time. He was instrumental in leading GM to become one of the most largest and successful organization of the world. His shrewdness has been well remembered by his critics extending to the cold and materialism. Multidivisional organizations used a formation similar even though there are constant augmentations to the centralized link. General Motors have been offering the details like information related to data and market, owed resources among the divisions and other universal and legal sustainability. Under the leadership of Sloan, GM became extensively famous for handling the assorted operations with the financial information like return on equity and usage of the cost centre. GM used cost centre to their benefits like though there were certain drawbacks as well, as always the case. As per Day and Schoemaker (2016), the strengths of the cost centres are enhancing the performance measurement, allowing training of the managers in the process of decision making and administering the divisions centre on stringent vigilance. Cost centres also helps in improving the monitoring of the investment returns along with augmenting the costs and expenditure. In case of the weakness factor, cost centre increases the administration process and paperwork along with increase in the cost of maintenance and monitoring and running of the centres.
The method followed by Sloan has certainly lost favor in the past few years not only from the perspective of the theory but also in practice. There has been a development in the organization and their environment since the time of Sloan, with Peter Drucker being a writer commenting on the rejection of the significance of the GM model of the structure of the organization (Toma, Saseanu and Marinescu 2014). He has been able to point out that present day organizations like Toyota, GM need to be increasingly innovative and work continuously towards manufacturing of cars that serves the purpose of their customers, the GM archetype offering no guidance within the area. Improved for a one-country, one-product scheme, companies involved in manufacturing, the efficiency is limited for the present day multinational, multi-product, consumerist organizations that are regularly not manufacturing but industries of service (Drucker 2016).
There have been existences of certain influences that have resulted in the adaptation of the model of GM. The spread of the Japanese thoughts towards the West has introduced certain techniques that changed the strictly controlled the line of production in the western industries with the concepts including that of lean production, teamwork and market downsize. Certain other influences on the association away from the model of GM have been the appreciation of the significance of the factors of creativity, corrosion of the hierarchies favoring the flat structures of the organizations and the trend towards minor organizations forming networks.
Chrysler Mercedes-Benz Merger:
A merger can be defined as the corporate strategy in combining various companies into a single organization for the enhancement of the operational and the financial strengths of the organizations involved in the merger. As per Fäh (2016), mergers generally results in stronger organization with mutual assets, areas of competencies, along with the markets. However, there is a high chance of the merger being a failure if there is a clash of the two corporate cultures between two organizations, unwillingness to reorganize the operational factors along with outmoded management and technological incompatibility. Mergers have been difficult to execute, for which it eventually takes the form of acquisition, a weaker company being purchased by the stronger company.
Chrysler Daimler-Benz Story:
The conquest of Chrysler Corporation by Daimler-Benz in a $38 million stock transaction is a influential expression of the globalization of the overall country. The biggest industrial company within Germany, and in Europe as an entire, is obtaining one of the largest corporations existing in America, generating a international giant with a workforce over 4, 00,000 and a yearly productivity of over $130 billion. The amalgamation is the major industrial unification in record and the biggest-ever acquisition of a company that is American by a concern that is based overseas. The merged organization is known by the name of DaimlerChrysler, ranked fifth in terms of the integer of vehicles manufactured, ranking behind the likes of Ford, Toyota, GM and Volkswagen. If value is being taken into consideration, DaimlerChrysler would be positioned third. It has been stated that if DaimlerChrysler was considered a country, it would be positioned 37th globally in terms of the GDP, a little behind Austria, but astonishingly ahead of six members of the European Union (EU) – Portugal, Finland, Greece, Ireland, Norway and Denmark.
Before this big merger took place, the automobile industry either witnessed mergers or rather guzzling of the failing or small companies by strong rivals, with the Daimler-Chrysler contract involving two extremely lucrative companies, with amalgamated net earnings standing at $5.7 billion in 1997. Daimler-Benz has ricocheted from the losses it suffered in the early 1990s and posted record amount of profits, whereas Chrysler made more profits per vehicle wise that any of the other existing auto manufacturers.
Reasons for Merger:
The main driving force following the amalgamation is the requirement of generating ever-larger worldwide based entities having the capability to contend in the chief markets across the globe along with the three key centers of world-capitalism: Asia, Europe and North America. Before the merger took place, Chrysler and Daimler-Benz were fundamentally regional manufacturers-Chrysler having third highest share in the North American market , Daimler-Benz scheming the European luxury market (Phillips and Zhdanov 2013).
During the late 1980s and the beginning of the 90s witnessed Chrysler going through a bad financial crisis where it was compelled to sell of its Latin American and European plants. In the year 1998, before the merger took place, it was able to sold only 17,710 vehicles in its local market. Daimler-Benz unwrapped its first non-European plant in 1997 at the time when it commenced accumulating a version of sport-utility of the Mercedes-Benz at one of their plants in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. None of the organizations had any sort of facility in Asia. During the joint press conference that took place in London, mutually Daimler-Benz Chairman Jurgen Schrempp and Chrysler Chairman Robert Eaton implied that the subsequent step might be an attainment of a Japanese company, most probably Mitsubishi, a former partner of Chrysler for rounding out the merged organization’s global existence. Daimler-Benz’s merger with Chrysler was aimed towards augmenting the diversification of products the company sold.
The approach of conducting business of both the organizations did not overlie each other in terms of the product lines and the management. Chrysler was mainly based in US with Americans have pioneering approach to inventive production along with low cost effectiveness in their activities of business. Daimler, a German company had always focused on factors like quality and attention towards minute details. These two companies would thus be creating a strong partnership since they had no conflicting facets. The merger was welcomed for the fact that the two companies have been successful. The main intent was increasing the range of the products along with the augmenting the savings portion and expanding their market to the global scene (Franz, Bieger and Herrmann 2017). Many people were of the notion that the merger was best due to the diversification in their principles and advancement towards business. Both the companies had the aspiration in expanding globally and competing in the global market.
The Daimler-Benz conquest of Chrysler was part of a massive capital outflow from Germany, with the giant organizations like Siemens, Volkswagen and Hoechst buying out overseas organizations or in others sense endowing in new plants and equipments outside the German terrain. As per Kannry et al. (2017), in the year 1997, German companies invested ten times more in foreign locations and business than the foreign companies investing in German soil. The main intent for such an investment is in attaining elevated profits by acquiring labor mostly at cheaper rates than these organizations paying presently within Germany. Volkswagen bought Skoda, the largest Czech producer, while Siemens attained the electrical apparatus business of the Westinghouse having half of their corporate workforce outside Germany.
Failure of Merger:
However, the merger failed due to the certain issues that exploded after the organizations had gone for the merger. Daimler diversified its production in various geographical locations while Chrysler had a centrally positioned dealing process. The two organizations were very different in terms of the geographical, cultural and conventional aspects. Moreover, as per Bouwman (2013), the corporate cultures of both the organizations were very different. The companies found compatibility among themselves to be the biggest issue, especially in case of the corporate culture. For instance, Daimler AG comprised of a corporate culture facilitating the workers in having beer breaks. However, this culture was not at all acceptable by Chrysler as they alleged that offering beer breaks to workers might result in accidents and other illegitimate impacts. After the merger took place, this particular issue conveyed conflicts that led to poor communication between managers of the two organizations. This resulted in the breakdown of the merger.
Both Chrysler and Daimler have been highly successful in their home countries respectively, both protecting their corporate uniqueness. Chrysler used the approach of being innovative in developing the ideas of the business along with scope of venturing into new markets. However, Daimler was exactly the opposite of this, encouraging any sort of hierarchy and formality. At Daimler, the process of decision making was formalized in nature with employees wearing formal clothes at workplace. At the time of the DaimlerChrysler merger, Chrysler encouraged communications of informal nature along with standards of casual clothing. This generated confusion and conflict between the two organizations die to the different understanding of culture. The existing relationships within the companies brought in conflicts during the process of merger. The Germans were generally formal and never disclosed their personal matters within the organization premises. The Americans believed in freedom at workplace and in development of relationship.
There was difference even in the management style of both the organizations. According to Phillips and Zhdanov (2013), the Germans sponsored for long meetings along with long discussions and reports. The Americans were mostly of the opinion that ingenuity is the main idea in management where they established short meetings with fewer reports. Chrysler group was formed with the principle and belief of invention and innovation to be the best method for success. This was reverse to what Daimler’s principle and belief was. They acknowledged formal situate of activities along with the strategies being demeanor in the most formal of manners in retaining a good image about the brand (Jindal 2015).
Comprehending synergy in the architecture of brand and the strategy of platform would have requisited deep incorporation of Chrysler and Daimler. Engineers from Germany would have had to intend cars making use of the parts generated by the American engineers and vice versa (Reddy and Jaju 2015). The team of management would have led to the development of a strategy of global brand and connected logic of positioning in competitive basis. Nothing of this sort ever happened. The major issue was that they administered the two organizations as two separate entities. Major shifts within the environment including the rise in the prices of gases and the shifting away from the SUVs and trucks thrust out the blocks from under the recuperation of Chrysler, it was both essential and potential for them to part. Reports suggest the major fault was on the part of Daimler’s former chairman, Jergen Schrempp. Like the other senior executives concerned to reinforce their legacies, he got caught up in the acquisition mania of the late 90s. Economists estimated that between the period of 1998 and 2001, larger acquisition charges the shareholders of attaining firms of $398 billion (Franz, Bieger and Herrmann 2017).
Most of the conflict between the two was build on the breakdown in communication. The two organizations had not been able to lay down suitable strategies in solving the issues that would originate from the cultural differences between the companies and the stakeholders. The culture of the Americans to that of the Germans contradicted to each other, amalgamating the two requiring a good plan in avoiding conflicts (Krug, Wright and Kroll 2014). Conflicts emanated from the perspectives of the management along with culture of the two communities.
This merger took place with lot of hope and aspirations and it delivered too at the initial stage. But as years passed by, the communication gap started increasing between the two companies and their perception and conception clashed with each other. The American and the Germans found it difficult to carry on a business jointly, as their cultures and thinking were not matching each other and creating barriers along the way. Decision making became a significant issue and the clash of the egos and sentiments jeopardized the work process of DaimlerChrysler.
The World Car Concept: Fiat Palio
In the era of the new worldwide auto industry, OEMs have to handle the tradeoff between the searches for competence – that is essentially been derived from attaining of the economies of scale, augmenting standardization, developing the differentials of factor pricing along with transfer of knowledge across the organization. It has the need to acclimatize procedures and products to the domestic conditions and the customers predilection staying in countries exemplified by varied structural (roadways, prices of fuels, highways) and social (accessible income, culture) conditions (Kräkel and Müller 2015). By doing this, OEMs have been following varied prototypes, where there is no existence of dominant, unique and thriving strategy. For instance, when some of the automakers be predisposed to design cars with a common platform eloquent and adapting the same in majority of the markets throughout a wide assortment of models. Other car manufacturers prefer customizing both the models and industrialization in each country fir responding to the detailed requirements of each market, meeting the local satisfied requirements, taking improvement of the inferior ‘local’ costs.
There has been acceleration in technology across the world. One such major force behind the factor of acceleration is the concept of ‘world car’ with association with the facilitation in export (Borden 2014). World cars can be defined as vehicles that are commonly designed manufactured by certain number of countries through the help of the subsidiaries or certain associates of the major makers of motor vehicles. Through the association with the credits of workable exports program, the manufacturer contributes in the gains of world car with two key advantages. The first advantage is the economies of scale for the augmented production with the second being duty indulgence on the components that are being imported that is perhaps not practicable to the manufacturing of cars.
FIAT Palio Case Study:
FIAT has come up with an approach that is different from these approaches, conniving a “world car”, the Palio that is people of models particularly envisaged for the bigger emerging markets. The concept of “world car” relates s here since on the one side, vehicles being fully standardized across the world, no matter where they are being manufactured. On the other side is the technology, the structures of the organizations and systems of human resource be inclined to standardized across plants as they have been sharing a common impression, thanks to the transfer of knowledge and processes of internal learning.
According to Amighini, Balcet and Richet (2015), global sourcing that takes into account the purchase of parts and modules at the best global conditions in terms of eminence and delivery and the World Material Flow with logistic development that governs global transactions among the plants of Fiat and their suppliers, supporting the idea of ‘world car’. The idea is to produce each Fiat with the ‘best’ parts and progression of assembling, no issue where they are being manufactured.
The Fiat Palio ‘world car’ is quite diverse from the other experimentations that took place in the past. On the one hand, it can be stated as being more inclusive as it attempts in the global optimization of the total supply chain, though, on the other hand, it referred to a slender, well-defined fragment of market, the ‘popular car’ or the ‘family car’ intended towards fulfilling the basic needs of motorization (Borden 2014). Another major disparity is being symbolized by the fact that Fiat was being planned as the ‘world car family’ moderately than the ‘world car’. Presently, the Fiat Palio is being manufactured in 7 countries and sold in 32 different countries. According to Kräkel and Müller (2015), the project of Fiat Palio had commenced way back in 1992 as a trim of the Uno model for the Brazilian segment. However, in the year 1993, the project scope changed in the most drastic of manners when Fiat came up with the idea of creating a “world car” project whose main facets were creating a global supply chain that is being governed by two management systems for the factor of assembling in several places of the world. It defined the family of fresh models targeted towards the emerging countries needs for the motorization that is being based on the same platform, manufacturing and selling with not much change.
Palio’s expansion came at a critical phase in the summer of 1993. During that time, a ‘platform based’ managerial element having extra 200 people, taking in the external engineering organization- IDEA Institute was being set up for the expansion of the style. The engineering outsourcing was profound and accounted for 80 per cent of the overall design cost. The unit of the platform comprised of 12 module based teams that comprised of the engineers and technicians who have been detached from the central departments of Fiat, main suppliers and foreign operations. The Palio production started in Brazil in the year 1996, followed by Argentina after series of complicated discussions about the re-starting bustle within the country and the structuring of the new plant within a timeframe of eighteen months at the region of Cordoba. The plant of Fiat Auto Poland in Bielsko-Biala commenced in Siena and Palio SW in 1997 March. In the region of Morocco, the manufacturing of Siena and Palio on track in the season of autumn 1997 and June 1998 respectively, through the hands of the Moroccan company Somaca. In Turkey, Fiat TOFAS plant in the region of Bursa commenced the manufacture of Palio hatchback and of SW in the month of March 1998.
In 1998 January, Fiat Auto cleared an conformity through Fiat Auto South Africa along with Nissan South Africa that owned a place in Rosslyn. Nissan performed the assembling of Siena, Palio, Palio SW models. In India, in the month of Aril in 2000, Fiat started manufacturing Siena. Fiat achieved the collective construction of one million components of the vehicles of Palio in the year 1999 (George 2015). This was much below than anticipated as South Africa witnessed an economic droop slide down operations. After that Fiat had plans in bringing Palio to Russia and China when the conditions in the global market would allow such a pledge.
As per Caputo (2015), the Fiat Palio concept of the ‘world car’ project is an attractive territory in understanding the vibrant that associates globalization and modularization within the auto industry. It needs to be eminent that modularization does not happen inside a vacuum. Instead, products of modular nature and manufacturing overlie and interweave with the existing non-modular plants and products. Modularization, this can be stated as the outcome of the multifaceted processes of experiments, where erudition develops existing within and between the suppliers and OEMs, starting from the trials to the errors, even in the indirect manner. In an attempt to manufacture a global product, Fiat’s proposal to Fabbrica Integrata was a reference customary for the purpose of homogenizing development. Fiat was actually been experienced at the Melfi plant and was re-generated in the form of technical and organizational component in the several foreign plants. At the same time, certain edition to the confined conditions and to the products that are existing and the requirement of the processes. As a result of this, the plants where Palio is being manufactured are dissimilar and reflect on the historical background and the national perspective. The technological components existing in the several foreign plants of Fiat accept a close similarity to each other. This can be witnessed in terms of both the systems for manufacturing and the structures of the organization. For instance, the fundamental organizational unit that is being managed by the work team, though varying in size across the workshop of each plant, has a tendency to be homogeneous across the several plants. Even in case of the internal symphony of all the teams are quite similar across the plants, shimmering on the basic rules of Fabbrica Integrata.
The automation level is homogeneous in nature and is mainly low across the plants, with the only exemption of detailed applications in the brownfield plants, deriving from the investments made in the past (Shimizu 2016). Most of the operations are being carried out in manual fashion, especially in the final assembling. For the Palio project, Fiat had to outsource a lot, partly for reducing the cost and partly for minimizing the risk in investment and partly fulfilling the institutional restraints in the local content. According to Athreye, Tuncay-Celikel and Ujjual (2014), this re-definition of the responsibilities existing between the OEM and the suppliers feedback into the product construction blueprint, impacting partitioning of the knowledge between the suppliers and the OEM and probably facilitating modularity in the devise. In case of the modularity of the organization, with regards to the intra-firm managerial design, Palio’s roll out in the foreign plants pursued a frequent template of technological and organizational, exported and simulated in several countries (Amighini, Balcet and Richet,2015).
The Fiat Palio “world car” depicts one of the truest and assorted global strategies in the modern history of the auto business. The case of Fiat Palio ahs illustrated the fact that manufacturing and selling in various places a car that takes into account the cross-country uniqueness of interior or exterior designs and the eminence standards representing a pioneering and sustainable energy based on the systematic, cross-country and cross-plant process of transfer of knowledge. The complexity of the Fiat Palio project augmented immensely as it commenced touching important nations like India and requiring customization of product and certain local adjustments in factors like technologies, structures within the organizations and the practices of the management especially in the brownfield plants.
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