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The GM Culture Crisis: What Leaders Must Learn From This Culture Case Study

Final Analysis: GM Culture Crisis


General Motors is a well-known company in the entire world, and it is considered the leader in the automotive industry. In 2014, the company recalled approximately 800,000 cars due to the explosion of faulty switches. General Motors is recognized as a corporation in this case study that is in the center of the chaotic situation. The culture of the General Motors was a source to look other methods as well as the lack of ability to take the responsibilities. The primary point of strength of the company is the situation of the CEO for the company. The CEO, Mary Barra was always ready to bring the changes in the environment of the culture. In this regard, CEO also removes 15 employees due to turning a blind eye to the issues regarding safety. The weakness of the firms is due to the situation in which CEO never make efforts to identify the actual problems like the issue of the leadership and the culture (Holacracy, 2016).

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Organizational Modeling

The model which is used by the organization in the case study is called traditional hierarchical model in which the flow of the power is downward and vertical. The model has the attribute that can be identified with ease by the employee of the organization. The model makes use of tires like line supervisor, line work and the personal of central management. The next tire moves upward towards upper management and end at a traditional hierarchical model. This typical structure of the organization and there is also the existence of an alternative arrangement.

One of the alternatives is the model of traditional hierarchical, which is the organizational matrix model. In such model, cross-functional teams are used by the organization to complete the assigned task. Such groups have team leaders that provide the report to the project manager as well as the functional manager. The leader of the team also adds another level to the matrix that can be used in the present period business model and called holacratic organizational model which is observed as flat management (Cherry, Arvinen-Muondo, R, & S, 2013).

There are a lot of reasons in which such different models are utilized in various industries. The idea behind it may be the product type as well as the type of services of the specific industry. Just, for example, this model may work for the automotive industry due to the different level of production. The decision is made to filter the requirement from peak to bottom which seems like an ideal model for this sector. This matrix is useful for the construction companies. On the other hand, the holacratic model is much valid for the small businesses that have the little pool.


The culture plays a vital role in the model of the organization. The attitude and environment in which the employees of the team are working are associated with the working of the team. If the employees of the organization understand the atmosphere of the work like nurturing, caring, as well as inviting, then they make much effort to for the maintenance and excellence of the organization. In the precious culture, the model adopts the strategy of secondary level to the bottom line of a team. Until the time, the company produces its product at a high cost as well as upper management calm; then the organizational culture goes unnoticed.

The model used by General Motors is a traditional hierarchical model which is not new for the industry, and it is used by many large organizations. This model is proving beneficial for the companies like Ford, Volkswagen, and Toyota. The businesses like Nike in the industry of apparel, in retail Walmart and foods and beverage Coca-Cola, etc. use traditional hierarchical model, but it is not unique to this industry. The motivational model may shift the model from comparison to organizational model. In the dealing with the different employee, the model is used then this to motivate employees to achieve the goals likes motivational speech and incentives (Kuppler., 2014)

Leadership Theory

The leadership can be explained in many ways. Most of the people have the belief that they are the inborn leader and some other people have the idea that the attributes of the leader can be created. The person that is set in the position of the leadership can perform right, and also can follow the values and norms of the organization. On the other hand, the born leader remains strict in his ways. There are different styles of leadership to control the employees and society.


The style of leadership in the case study is associated with the Autocratic leadership style. The specific method indicates the attributes in which a single individual has all the control in the entire decision-making process and just little input is acquired by the group members. The autocratic leadership of leadership is useful for managers that are qualified highly but lead towards destructive work performance as well as a level of motivation. Such method becomes the reason for blame to the individual for a mistake and the neglecting from the duties.

The management attributes in the case study are confusing.  No one in the organizational setup is ready to admit the mistake and blame another person for errors. It is necessary to adopt the particular measure to provide the feelings to employees that they are valuable for GM.

There are also many external as well as internal influences that become the reason for a shift in leadership. The internal factor the employees and whistleblowers that want to see the GM destruction were headed due to dishonesty, so demand change from the administration. In the external influence, the public outrage includes that directly pertain the incidence of ignition and demand full responsibility to know the actual problem.

The problem in the cultural environment, as well as the leadership style, attracts the attention of the media. Media provides many boosts to the issue which is associated with the leadership style and the culture of the organization. Media put much pressure on the organization due to which the organization has to bring change in the cultural environment. On the other hand, the employees of the organization also show their de-satisfaction from the environment and not willing to cooperate with the organization. All these internal as well as external factors become the reason for the change in the culture, process, and cutting cost as well as the change in the structure.


Organizational Culture

The internal culture believes that the public has lack of belief on the case study of GM. The leadership and culture are the significant part of the GM scandal. The internal culture expresses values, assumption, and belief. The behavioral theories study the behavior of the leaders, and the culture leadership is a necessary element of the business.

The example that explains the internal culture is available in the organizational setup. Like the GM Salute that tell the arm crossing and point towards others. The other case is the GM node which represents compliance. This example has little concerns with the culture of GM.



The internal culture and the style of leadership of company did not compliment. Under the form of administration called autocratic, management forwards the responsibilities to the supervisor to work with courage. In the case of GM, not sufficient rights are provided to the employees and they also have no right to make their participation in the process of decision making or provide any type of suggestion in the matters of management of an organization. This style of leadership did not have any alignment with the traditional hierarchical model of organization. The CEO wanted to bring change and make an effort to change the culture. The effect of the leader is direct to the perception that may influence the behavior of employees. The culture has much influence on the on the way of working and behaving of the employees. If the employees may treat with care and also provided by the rights, then the level their efficiency may increase and they also indicate the sense of cooperation. These factors required from the organization to bring positive change in the environment.


Cherry, A. K., Arvinen-Muondo, L., R, & S, P. (2013, 01 01). Organizational Behavior. Retrieved from

Holacracy. (2016, 1 1). Organizational Behavior. Retrieved from

Kuppler., T. (2014, 1 1). The GM culture crises: What leaders must learn from this culture case study. Retrieved from



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