Monday, December 01, 2008

Loser culture

Why are the U.S.-owned car companies so bad?  Presumably the reason is ingrained corporate culture.  They spent decades as oligopolists, protected from foreign competition because World War II had leveled the rest of the industrial world.  Plus, barriers to entry in the car business prevented domestic turnover a la Microsoft supplanting IBM.  By the time significant foreign competition arrived in the 1970s it was too late - the corporate culture had ossified beyond repair.

As a junior tax associate at a D.C. law firm in the 1980s, I went out to Detroit a couple of times on a case, and had lunch with mid-level execs in the company canteen.  It was obvious even back then that they were utterly lost and knew it.  A lot of big paunches and thinning white hair but no ideas, enthusiasm, or hope.

Hard to see how a rescue or managed bankruptcy changes this.

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