TURNAROUND: The New Ford Motor Company by Robert L. Shook

TURNAROUND: The New Ford Motor Company

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A notably superficial appraisal of how Ford Motor Co. recovered from a brush with disaster during the early 1980's, when its reported losses aggregated $3.3 billion over a three-year span. Shook, whose credits include ghosted books for the likes of IBM's Buck Rogers and Mary Kay (of cosmetics fame), plus an effusive 1988 tribute to Honda's manufacturing operations in the US (Honda), starts with a sketchy history of the auto-making concern. With no great insight, he traces Ford's rise to world-class status as a supplier of passenger cars and trucks. The author also inventories the reasons for Ford's subsequent decline, citing adversarial labor relations, imports, management complacency, and allied problems as among the principal causes of an eroded share of domestic vehicle markets. At the heart of the text, though, is a singularly uncritical appreciation of how Ford staged its undeniably impressive comeback. By Shook's sunny-side-up account, employee involvement and quality-assurance programs based on the precepts of W. Edwards Deming were the keys to the dramatic reversal in the multinational's fortunes. Soft-pedaled, however, is the fact that wrenching layoffs, which cut the corporate work force from 500,000 to 350,000, played an important role in the turnabout. All but ignored in the happy talk of cooperation and enhanced productivity, moreover, is the substantive contribution made by Henry Ford II in ensuring that the company had secure offshore bases after WW II. There's obviously much to learn from Ford's second-time-around success story. Shook's version, unfortunately, promotes without probing the company's makeover.

Pub Date: Nov. 21st, 1990
Publisher: Prentice Hall