General Motors Returns to the Public Market

You read that right!  After a multi-billion dollar government bailout and lighting fast bankruptcy proceedings, the largest U.S. automaker has returned to the public market.

It’s hard to believe that it has been almost two years since the collapse of Government General Motors, but it has been quite an interesting turn of events from a business perspective.  Even though GM has had access to special federal and state resources that no other business could ever dream of, the company has managed to make great strides in their turnaround efforts.  These changes are reflected in their new product roll-outs, increased efficiency, and gains in market share – despite shedding four of their brands (Saturn, Pontiac, Saab, and Hummer).  But, one can only wonder if these changes are merely skin deep.

General Motors didn’t go bankrupt because they offered poor products or lacked the ability to make quality products.  Instead, General Motors failed because of a bloated corporate culture that was resistant to change, bureaucratic in nature,  and lackadaisical with their business decisions.  This culture resulted in decades of uncompetitive offerings, eight indistinguishable brands, and poor product quality which ultimately led to their debt-laden down fall.

The new GM, under the U.S. government’s guidance, has replaced some of their highest management and executive officers for this reason.  Don’t get me wrong, they have some great talent at the helm; however, it will take more than a few personnel swaps to change a corporate culture that has been evolving over the last few decades.  Dumping four brands and re-invigorating their remaining four with new products is definitely a step in the right direction, but it will take some serious soul searching on General Motors’ part to prevent themselves from repeating the past.  The market seems to think their is new life in GM, but I will reserve my final judgments on this chapter of their story until meaningful changes and improvements can be seen.

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2 Responses to General Motors Returns to the Public Market

  1. Daniel says:

    It had to happen sometime, and it’s encouraging to see signs of a resurgence. But it’s scary to think of all of the other “to-big-to-fail” companies out there with similar problems. I venture to think that it’s a corporate mindset that runs deeper than just one industry. The pace of business today is bringing out the creaky joints of these giant old companies. Maybe we need a few annual industry crises to weed them out.

    • Matt Jackson says:

      Thanks for joining the conversation! The corporate culture that brought down GM is definitely prolific. Each industry has its own nuances, and it was the auto industry’s and GM’s culture that didn’t mix well together. A corporate culture resistant to change is bad for business in any industry; but, in the auto industry, where change and innovation are the driving forces, a company simply can not resist change. Decades of this mindset led to their bankruptcy, and it was a long time coming.