Ford's Global Realignment

By Sunoo, Brenda Paik | Personnel Journal, December 1994 | Go to article overview

Ford's Global Realignment


Sunoo, Brenda Paik, Personnel Journal


When Ford Motor Company realigns its front end, it's not just talking cars and trucks. It's talking about major organizational changes. Last April, the world's second-largest industrial corporation announced that it would reorganize its global automotive business by consolidating the North American and European operations.

But being global is nothing new for Ford, says Jack Hall, vice president of employee relations for the newly structured Ford Automotive Operations, which will have responsibility for all aspects of the company's automotive business on both continents. "[Henry] Ford was very forward looking when he established the company years ago," he says. Ford Motors--No. 3 on the PERSONNEL JOURNAL 100 list--has been an international company since a few weeks after its formation. It began when Mr. Ford sold a Model A in 1903 to a customer in Canada. Within 10 years, his company was selling cars throughout Europe, South America and Asia. Today, the company has plants or other facilities in 30 countries, sells vehicles in more than 200 markets and employs more than 320,000 around the world.

Ford's announcement continues an evolution from regional to worldwide processes that's increasingly based on high technology and communications systems. These systems helped the success of the transatlantic development that produced some of its mid-sized cars. Ford plans to sell as many as 800,000 of these vehicles annually in a total of 59 markets around the world.

The consolidation, Hall explains, will allow Ford to be more responsive to its customers' needs and be more nimble. Since World War II, the North American and European operations functioned like two separate countries--an organizational arrangement that caused duplication of product development and engineering activities. "When you do that, you have to provide resources for two organizations although the products can support both markets," he says.

For example, Ford Motor Company may have half a dozen two-litre engines with relatively minor differences being developed separately in Brazil, Germany and the United States. But if a single product or two could meet all the requirements worldwide, Ford wouldn't have to design, engineer and calibrate large numbers of different engines. …

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