Management practices

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The attempt to reconcile Ford’s short and long term and long-term objectives has mean that the company is negotiating a major transition period; on the one hand, striving to introduce aspects of Japan-like industrial organization in preparation for future strategic change, whilst, on the other hand, maintaining established managerial practices and work organization patterns essential to current competitiveness. (Starkey and Mckinly 1989:94).

Company strategy is embodied in the 1984 mission statement, Mission, Values and Guiding principles. Ford’s mission is to be a worldwide leader in automotive and related products and services and in newer industries such as financial services. Its basic values are described as people, products and profits. The guiding principles form a code of conduct that encapsulates policy towards employees, customers, dealers and suppliers.

These guiding principles include commitment to: quality in all aspects of the business; customers; continuous improvement’ EL team work at all levels; specified levels of competitiveness and return on assets. Ford strategy is underpinned by its strategic vision of being a low-cost producer of the highest-quality products and services which provide the best customers value. All strategic issues such as quality improvement, customer satisfaction and cost reduction have one common denominator. They all depend on the capacities, competencies, and commitment of Ford Company’s people.

Although market improvement has been made in changing Ford’s people corporate culture, the issue now and into the future, is how to create and sustain a right-sized, flexible work force with the capacities, competencies, and commitment that gives them a competitive edge in a turbulent, uncertain world marketplace (Johnson 1988:196). The marked improvements associated with these changes in the USA in the 1980s include major improvements in earnings, profitability, market share, productivity, product design, and quality and customer satisfaction.

The company perceives itself as having gone through a major transformation in management style and, with the help of the UAW, having generated a recognition by employees, unions and management alike that their common interests are bet served when there are agreed common goals and mutual benefits(Banas and Sauers 1988). Employee involvement has been embraced as company policy, so managers are expected to act accordingly. The other side of the coin to EL is PM: skills that managers use to provide employees and fellow managers with opportunities to participate in key managerial decision-making process.

A major goal of the change initiative therefore was managerial behavior. The company had accepted some assessment of their quality problems as primary rooted in management practices and not, as management had previously believed, worker failure to conform to management dictates. A major aim was to tap into the competencies, capacities, and commitment of the workforce at all levels. Reduces to its essentials, El is the process by which employees are provided with the opportunities to contribute their minds, as well as their muscles, and their hearts, to the attaining of individual and company goals.

Through a variety of techniques such as problem solving groups, new product launch teams, ad hoc quality and scrap involvement teams-opportunities have been created, for hourly employees to contribute their ideas, their analyses, and their solutions to job-related problems. Since 1979, virtually every hourly employee, either directly or indirectly, has been affected by this process. Today El is functioning in virtually all major Ford Motor facilities. (Banas and Sauers 1989:3).

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