I have been rather glum over the weekend with the news that Ford motors is cutting its workforce including 10,000 white collar workers and 75,000 hourly workers whom they have offered to buy out. Ford motors is not only an institution in the US but is revered for ages, worldwide. My father, for example, argued with his mom about replacing the family ‘s old Chevvy with a new Ford in the 1930’s British India. My grandfather apparently stayed out of the debate and the only color "black" Ford cost Rs.4000 or less than today’s $100. Henry Ford not only gave us the modern assembly line but many elements of management theory and I believe brilliant marketing for his time. To build a car market he gave us an affordable car that did not take a man’s entire yearly wage to buy.
So what went wrong ? I have earlier discussed the auto industry on this blog because it happens to be a major research bed for all kinds sourcing and B2B research. Just for nostalgia – I went to Google Scholar and typed "Auto Industry". All the gurus came up Clark and Fujimoto (1991); J.H. Dyer (1996); Abernathy (1978);Womack,Jones and Roos (1990);Susan Helper (1991); Marie Sako (1992). In other words these scholars had been studying the American and Japanese auto industries with the active support of Auto executives who did not bother with the research. Today on NBC ‘s morning show the irony was that somebody mentioned that the re-structured Ford Motors will look like a "Japanese Company."
Some cheery news from the stock market point of view is that Ford and GM might form an alliance or might merge but that will be another blog post. For now, one can only hope for minimizing the human impact of what has been a "management" problem.