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Case Study: Analyzing Challenges in Management Strategy
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Instructions: This case study assignment is an interesting and thought-provoking look into workplace culture and group dynamics that highlights challenges in management.  The present course “Management Strategy” of course involves the discussion of strategy, which can be thought of as a “thousand-foot view” of management processes. Specifically, management strategy discusses management plans and operations on a macro-level and at times can neglect the “how” of the fine-grained details on the ground. Accordingly, we need to discuss how things actually get done in terms of management and that is part of what this case study is about. In particular, this case study examines how difficult it can be to bring about change in the workplace in terms of management processes, routines, and workplace climate. Read and familiarize yourself with the case study questions then listen to the NUMMI audio file (produced by This American Life / NPR) and take notes on a separate pad of paper as you listen. After finishing the episode, reflect on the podcast and your notes in order to prepare to the case questions below.


1. What is the fundamental problem that General Motors (GM) is facing with regard to manufacturing? 

2. What did GM get out of this relationship (i.e., between GM and Toyota)? Alternatively, what did Toyota get out of this relationship? 

3. What is the culture like at NUMMI? 

4. When the plant eventually closes, and the preparation for the joint venture is about to begin – the man in charge – Bruce Lee (not to be confused with Bruce Lee of Kung Fu fame) – hires the same managers all over again. Why? What was the response of the workers? 

5. GM & Toyota send workers to Japan in groups to train with their Japanese counterparts. What happens and what do they learn at the plant in Japan? How does this compare with what the culture was at the NUMMI plant?

6. How did GM share the best practices learned? Was it effective? What were some of the challenges in “sharing” the approach?

7. How/why was Toyota so good at what they did? How come they did not mind letting GM into their plant?

8. What are your takeaways from the episode and also, how does it tie into some of the concepts learned in the course?

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