Earlier this month, General Motors announced its bankruptcy and will begin to restructure their operation. In spite of the bankruptcy announcement, assistant professor of management at Clemson, Scott Ellis, is confident GM can once again become competitive in the marketplace. This will, however, come at a cost. Ellis says that the initial impact will affect thousands of employees nationwide.
“The trickle down is what’s particularly important in my view, says Ellis. “Not only are there so many employees of General Motors, but then you also need to start considering their suppliers and their suppliers suppliers and the particular kinds of jobs their suppliers offer in terms of skill trade positions and knowledge workers within the U.S. economy.”
He is also concerned with how these displaced employees and their specific skill sets will find other comparable employment.
Ellis says that one of the issues with GM and Ford is the perception that their cars are not competitive is something they must address in the future. “”Please, except this notion, I believe that the U.S. auto manufacturers manufacture world-class quality cars.
“My idea is that they need to get that perception to the public that they do, in fact, manufacture world-class quality cars. There was a time when quality was sometimes a laggard as opposed to their competitors in the automotive industry.”
A possible problem the U.S. automakers have faced, according to Ellis, is the unionization of workers making it more difficult for these companies to adjust to the market. “Especially in terms of unionization,” he says, “it becomes very difficult to implement change sometimes because of the rigidity that is associated with bureaucratic processes.
“So I think when the industry started to change very quickly, it may have been hard for companies like the big three, who were so strongly unionized and had such strong work rules, to keep up with those changes.”
With so much to overcome, Ellis says it can be done. “Work, management and labor must work together to execute change, to innovate. The vision that exists between management and labor need to be filled. That void needs to be filled. The nature of that relationship needs to change for the better.
“I think it can happen but I think there is a lot of history that needs to be overcome. I am an optimist.”