by Eric Taub ‧ RELEASE DATE: Nov. 1, 1991
A workmanlike reconstruction of how Ford Motor Co. managed to build and sell a successful mid-size family sedan called the Taurus at a time when the parent organization was in serious financial difficulties. As TV producer Taub makes clear, the breakthrough vehicle was a signal accomplishment in the context of the complacent, play-it-safe corporate culture that prevailed during the late 1970's and early 1980's, when the project was undertaken. Notwithstanding sizable deficits that threatened the company's very existence, for instance, there was precious little interdepartmental cooperation, let alone collaboration. Desperate to retrieve markets lost to foreign as well as domestic rivals, however, top executives encouraged designers and engineers to work together to develop a car whose principal features would be customer-driven--for a change. Drawing on interviews with the men and women who participated in the program, Taub offers a vivid, anecdotal rundown on what can be done by a world-class enterprise resolved to mend its uncompetitive ways. In the face of fears that the company might be creating another Edsel, management boldly gave the aerodynamically styled Taurus (and its Mercury Sable counterpart) a green light. There were more than a few slips, though, betwixt the drawing board and showroom. Among other obstacles, Taub notes, assembly-line workers and their union initially viewed the so-called employee involvement campaign that was a crucial element in the Taurus/Sable program with cynical suspicion. Eventually, all design, production, and merchandising problems were overcome, earning Ford a marketplace triumph. Whether the Taurus program marked a sustainable change in corporate direction, though, remains a very open question in Taub's book, and recent results arguably support his pessimistic conclusions. Taub's solid narrative account of one brief shining hour in Motown history attests to the fact that where there's a will in heavy industry, there's generally a way.
Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1991
Page Count: 288
Review Posted Online: N/A
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1991
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