Genera| Motors

A lallure of CulLure
Lrlc 8abeţ u?nM 662ţ novŦ 22ţ 2010
Ceneral MoLorsţ once Lhe world's laraesL auLomaker and bullder of one everv Lwo
cars sold ln Amerlcaţ now sells onlv one of flveŦ 1rouble was evldenL aL CM more
Lhan 30 vears aaoŦ ?eLţ desplLe wldespread crlLlcal news coveraae and academlc
commenLarvţ CM was unable Lo make Lhe fundamenLal chanaes Lo Lurn lLs decllne
aroundŦ lL Look bankrupLcv ln 2009 Lo force CM Lo flnallv resLrucLure ln a meanlnaful
wavţ sheddlna car modelsţ planLs and workers LhaL lL couldn'L afford ln an efforL Lo
become aloballv compeLlLlve for Lhe lonaŴLermŦ Cn novŦ 18ţ 2010ţ CM compleLed a
successful lnlLlal publlc offerlna LhaL brouahL ln more Lhan $20 bllllon dollars and pald
off much of Lhe lnvesLmenL made bv Laxpavers Lo save Lhe companv a vear earllerŦ
1he lÞC showed lnvesLor confldence ln CM's fuLureŦ noneLhelessţ lL ls clear LhaL over
Lhe pasL Lhree decadesţ CM's culLure has falled lLŦ 1hls paper examlnes how LhaL
culLure conLrlbuLed Lo CM's lnablllLv Lo qulcklv ad[usL Lo lLs dvnamlc envlronmenL and
Lo make Lhe chanaes LhaL mlahL have kepL CM Lhe auLo lndusLrv leader and reLalned
for CM Lhe confldence of car buversŦ
Rabe, 6H: A Ioilure of Culture Ŷ

It looks as thought 0.S. caimakeis will beat the competition this yeai. Foiecasting
fiim I.B. Powei pieuicts that in ŶŴŵŴ the 0.S. uomestic auto companies will giow
fastei than theii foieign
competitois, gaining maiket
shaie foi the fiist time in
moie than a uecaue. The
gain comes mostly at the
expense of the Iapanese anu
in paiticulai Toyota, victim
of a seiies of safety-ielateu piouuct ueficiencies
anu lost consumei confiuence. Although peihaps
the iesult of otheis' mistakes moie than Ameiican successes, still, it will be the fiist
yeai uomestic fiims have gaineu maiket shaie since ŵ99Ź.

Noie piecisely, it is Foiu anu Chiyslei that will gain maiket shaie this yeai,
accoiuing to figuies publisheu by the Wall Stieet Iouinal.
At the enu of 0ctobei
ŶŴŵŴ, Foiu is up ŵ.Ź% ovei the piioi enu-of-0ctobei yeai-to uate figuie anu
Chiyslei gaineu .Ź% maiket shaie, thanks to the launch of a successful new S0v.
But uN. Bown .Ż% fiom the shaie of the maiket it helu a yeai eailiei. Anu
piobably again this yeai, uN will be less piofitable than its smallei Ameiican
competitoi, Foiu. 0veiall cai anu tiuck sales weie up foi each of the thiee, but uN's
yeai-to-uate sales weie only up ź.ź%, while Foiu's weie up ŶŴ.8% anu Chiyslei's
weie up ŵź.Ź%.

This comes at a time when uN continues its fight to iecovei fiom the financial ciisis
of ŶŴŴ8 that was the nail in the coffin leauing the company into a biief bankiuptcy in
Iune of ŶŴŴ9. The 0.S. uoveinment put some ŘŹŴ billion into uN to save the
company anu wounu up owning neaily two-thiius of uN. uN's successful initial
public offeiing aftei coming out of bankiuptcy was an initial success, iaising some
ŘŶŴ billion on Nov. ŵ8, ŶŴŵŴ, anu paying off some of the goveinment investment.
Yet the shaie of maiket foi the once uominant uN continues to shiink.

Theie aie many ieasons behinu the fall of uN since its hay uays in the late ŵ9ŻŴs.
Company apologists might cite some of these:

The auvent of foieign competition, fiist at the low enu anu then at the most
piofitable high enu of the auto maiket.
The massive investment in technology in the ŵ98Ŵs that faileu to oveicome
the inefficiencies of the business.
The unexpecteu shifts in consumei uemanu fiist as consumeis sought small
fuel-efficient cais aftei the oil ciisis of the ŵ9ŻŴs: latei as consumeis
uemanueu biggei cais anu S0vs when oil woiiies easeu.
CM, Ford, Cbrysl¢r, Toyota, Honda
Sourc¢: Wull Street journul

Rabe, 6H: A Ioilure of Culture ŷ
The uecision to peimit uN's huge cieuit aim, uNAC, to finance home
moitgages aheau of the stunning buist of the housing bubble in ŶŴŴ8.

Those factois all contiibuteu to uN's woes. But consistent thioughout the last thiee
uecaues at uN has been a failuie of the company's cultuie. 0vei the yeais, uN was
unwilling to make tiuly significant changes in its oiganization, its management anu
to the way uN opeiates because its cultuie iejecteu change. Wiiting as uN sliu
fuithei anu fuithei fiom its gloiy, foimei boaiu membei Ross Peiot uesciibeu the
"uN system" as a "blanket of fog," one that blinueu executives to what was iequiieu
anu suffocateu oiganizational change. "We've got to nuke the uN system," Peiot

CM's World Cbang¢d

At the stait of the ŵ98Ŵs, the signs of tiouble weie eviuent, if not to the company,
then at least to the jouinalists anu analysts coveiing uN. But insiue uN,
management was beaming as the company geneiateu ŘŻ billion in cash flow in ŵ9Ż8
anu iecoiueu unpieceuenteu piofits anu sales.
uN was iiuing high, anu coulun't
imagine how swiftly the company's enviionment was changing.

Neanwhile, Iapanese competitois weie efficiently builuing high-quality cais with
laboi-management coopeiation unimagineu at uN. Within a uecaue, Iapanese anu
Euiopean manufactuieis woulu ieplace uomestic companies, anu especially uN, as
the automakeis of choice foi millions of cai buyeis. Wheieas in the ŵ9ŹŴs "maue in
Iapan" singleu cheap goous anu low quality, by the ŵ98Ŵs, Ameiican cai buyeis
iecognizeu the high value of Bonua, Toyota, Nissan anu Nazua. uN plants weie
tuining out cais with, on aveiage, six oi seven times as many pioblems as Iapanese
cais. In ŵ98Ż, Cauillac was shelling out some ŘŷŴŴ uollais a cai to covei waiianty
claims: Bonua was spenuing ŘŷŴ.

Expectations of woikeis weie changing too. In ŵ98Ŵ, uN hau 8Źŷ,ŴŴŴ people on the
payioll woiluwiue. A uecaue eailiei, the company hau suffeieu a majoi stiike by the
0niteu Auto Woikeis 0nion anu lost. uN agieeu to unpieceuenteu employee job
guaiantees to settle it's ŵ9ŻŴ contiact. Wiites jouinalist Alex Tayloi III, looking
back aftei uecaues of coveiing the company, "The cost of those benefits woulu
beuevil uN foi the next ŷŹ yeais. But they uiun't buy union peace. Rancoious
ielations anu peiiouic stiikes iemaineu a fact of life at uN."

uN's ielationship with laboi was built on uistiust anu top-uown contiol at a time
when woikeis expecteu to be a pait of the uecision-making piocess. 0nion leaueis
biiuleu at the company's "uisiespect" while management iesenteu union
"inteifeience." 0n the othei siue of the Pacific, a sense of teamwoik anu
commitment fiom all employees top to bottom was impioving quality anu cutting

Rabe, 6H: A Ioilure of Culture Ÿ
Tastes in cais weie changing, anu the buying public was becoming moie uemanuing
anu moie fickle. uN tiieu to iesponu by thiowing ŘŸŴ billion at the pioblem, fully
expecting to buiy the competition. In the ŵ98Ŵs, uN installeu an aimy of iobots to
go along with the aimy of humans alieauy on the assembly line. But its cultuie
clung to the past, anu the company investeu in uuplication, in cai uesigns that weie
moie of the same, anu in fancy new equipment without iethinking how woik gets
uone. Bopeu-foi efficiencies faileu to appeai, but uN was simply unable to aumit
that the gianu spenuing initiative was failing. The company piesseu on ultimately
spenuing, not ŘŸŴ billion, but ŘźŴ billion.

Efficiencies that weie a fact of life at competitois weie iejecteu at uN. While Foiu
was stieamlining its mouel offeis, uN was hanging on to six sepaiate cai uivisions
which often built similai looking anu similai uiiving cais without much intia-
company coopeiation. "The uivisions aie just fighting each othei," Iohn Schnapp, a
management consultant, noteu in ŵ989.

It was one sign of just how completely uN's cultuie was failing the company.

Tb¢ CM Cultur¢

Not only was uN hamstiung by its laboi eailiei agieements anu a high fixeu cost
stiuctuie, changing consumei uemanus, anu competition. It was even moie tieu up
by its own inteinal management - both the people anu the oiganization itself.

Noie than ŵŴŴ,ŴŴŴ white-collai executives
woilu-wiue - mostly men - ian uN much
as foimei chief executive Alfieu P. Sloan Ii.
hau imagineu it in the ŵ9ŶŴs. Sloan's
foimula hau woikeu well foi uN foi
uecaues, anu few saw a ieason to change

No impoitant move was to be maue
without extensive stuuy anu uetaileu
planning. The cultuie was one of attention
to uetails, of an engineeiing mentality anu
of the suie knowleuge that the uN system woikeu. To the extent that uN executives
thought about the competition, often it was competition among uiffeient uN
uivisions that matteieu most. It was a cultuie that avoiueu iisk anu ceitainly uiun't
expect anyone to iock the boat.

To make matteis woise, those uN executives enjoyeu a vaiiety of expensive peiks
as they iose thiough the ianks. The company pioviueu cais foi many, anu foi boaiu
membeis theie was a new cai eveiy thiee months. Shoulu a iepaii be neeueu,
mechanics weie on stanu-by anu coulu pick up the cai fiom its heateu gaiage at the
Cbairman and CEU Rog¢r Smitb, ŵ99Ŵ,
Rabe, 6H: A Ioilure of Culture Ź
office. An entiie teak-paneleu flooi was set asiue in New Yoik foi the company's
once-a-month boaiu meeting. 0ff-site company ietieats weie a staple of the
management piocess. No one wanteu to change any of that.

To be suie, Chaiiman Rogei Smith tiieu to iefoim uN in the eaily ŵ98Ŵs,
ieoiganizing the company stiuctuie that Sloan fiist put in place. Laigely because of
uN's cultuie, the ieoiganization was a uismal failuie. Business Week noteu in ŵ988,
"Smith giossly unueiestimateu the ineitia within his company anu faileu to pioviue
the leaueiship anu cleai goals that might have galvanizeu its ŵŴŴ,ŴŴŴ-ouu
manageis. In the best of ciicumstances, uNŏs buieauciatic stiuctuie anu cultuie
have ensuieu that change comes only glacially. Buiing the piofitable miu-Eighties,
theie especially seemeu no ieason to shift couise. Nanageis lulleu by success
uiscounteu the mounting eviuence of tiouble anu uug in theii heels."

To Naiy Anne Bevanna, uiiectoi of ieseaich at the Columbia Business School
Nanagement Institute, it was a familiai stoiy of executives iesisting change. She
tolu Time in ŵ98ź, "Theii caieeis, big bonuses anu fancy peiks all uepenu on
maintaining the status quo. uN is in tiouble."

As the business woilu began to buzz with stoiies of new management techniques
leauing to highei quality anu fastei innovation in Iapan, uN ueciueu it coulu leain
moie. uN uiu a ueal with Toyota to jointly own a plant in Fieemont, Califoinia, that
uN hau been foiceu to close because of its inefficiency. The iesult was New 0niteu
Notois Nanufactuiing, Inc., (Nummi). Woiking with the 0AW, Toyota iehiieu
woikeis consiueieu tiouble by uN anu ielieu on conventional equipment. The plant
was a success, beating uN piouuction noims anu quality stanuaius by a mile.

"What uN leaineu at Nummi pioveu to be an embaiiassment," saiu Fuiman Seltz
auto analyst Naiyann Kellei. "They leaineu they uiun't neeu iobotics anu that
management was at fault, not the people who put cais togethei."

But uN's cultuie iejecteu Nummi anu theie weie no similai successes at othei uN
0.S. plants. When uN eventually tiieu laboi-management teams in the late ŵ98Ŵs,
little changeu. "uN is way oveiloaueu with supeivision anu they won't listen to
people on the flooi," a 0niteu Auto Woikeis Local Ź99 officei tolu Business Week in

uN's boaiu of uiiectois ueseiveu its shaie of the blame foi the failuie of cultuie at
uN. By ŵ99Ŷ, shaieowneis weie beginning to ievolt having watcheu uN lose moie
than ŵŴ% maiket shaie anu smallei Foiu continuously post highei piofits than uN.
Foi ŷŴ yeais, the boaiu hau lookeu the othei way, iubbei stamping the
management's agenua, anu installing successois pickeu by foimei chaiimen as they
hau when Robeit Stempel took ovei fiom Rogei Smith. But New Yoik coipoiate
lawyei Iia Nillstein hau hau enough was encouiaging laige institutional investois to
piessuie the boaiu foi change. The iesult was what the Wall Stieet Iouinal
uesciibeu as a "stunning ieveisal of tiauition. "
uN's outsiue uiiectois voteu to
Rabe, 6H: A Ioilure of Culture ź
split the uuties of CE0 anu Chaiiman. Stemple was out anu Iohn F. "Iack" Smith took
ovei as CE0. Key executives of the Rogei Smith eia weie pusheu asiue.

It was a uepaituie fiom the noim at uN, anu foi that mattei at most Ameiican
coipoiations of the uay, in two ways. It was an eaily example of institutional
investois using theii muscle to uemanu coipoiate change, anu outsiue uiiectois
weie helu accountable foi iepiesenting shaieholueis anu foi inuepenuently guiuing
management policies iathei than just nouuing yes to management's initiatives.

M¢¢t Mr. P¢rot

Piobably no stoiy illustiates the powei of uN's cultuie to
iesist change moie cleaily than the tale of the acquisition of
uata piocessing fiim EBS anu the activism of EBS Chaiiman
Ross Peiot.

The yeai was ŵ98Ÿ. By this time uN was making huge, but
uncooiuinateu, investments in computei systems of all
kinus. Seeking to manage anu pull togethei computeis that
geneiateu bills, uesigneu cais, opeiateu plants anu manageu
paits anu supplies, uN tuineu to a iecognizeu leauei in uata
piocessing, Peiot's EBS.

"When uN saiu it woulu acquiie EBS...uN executives extensively piaiseu the
company's inuepenuent spiiit anu they pleugeu to pieseive its inuepenuence," The
New Yoik Times wiote. "(CE0 Rogei) Smith saiu he wanteu all of uN to emulate
EBS's style, which emphasizeu quick action iathei than the caieful buieauciacy that
hau uevelopeu at the auto giant."

But it wasn't long befoie uN was getting moie help than it wanteu fiom its newest
boaiu membei anu laigest stockholuei, Ross Peiot . Peiot peppeieu management
with questions, ciiticisms anu uemanus foi change, asking common sense questions
fiom his uown-home Texas peispective. Why wasn't uN focuseu on its customeis.
Why uiu things have to take so long. Why uiun't uN's management listen to
uealeis. Why coulun't leaueiship, as he latei put it, "woik night anu uay to make
uN such an exciting, iewaiuing place that uNeis look foiwaiu to coming to
woik...taking on competitois anu beating them faiily."
When Peiot uiun't get the
action he sought insiue uN, he went public: "I founu that, not being effective
inteinally, I hau to take public positions about the neeu to get competitive. I
unueistoou they uiun't like it...."

Noting the "long feuu," The New Yoik Times explaineu that the situation "cieateu an
entiiely unchaiacteiistic uisaiiay at the top of a company once citeu as the mouel of
scientific management anu oiueily executive change. In the past u.N. has always
P¢rot, ŶŴŴ8,
Rabe, 6H: A Ioilure of Culture Ż
piesenteu a unifieu face to the woilu anu uissent among uiiectois was something
not uiscusseu beyonu the uoois of the boaiuioom."

Foitune put it moie simply: "Peiot's unbiiuleu eneigy anu zeal weie moie than the
company coulu stomach."

In Becembei ŵ98ź, iathei than make the soits of cultuial changes that Peiot
auvocateu, uN agieeu to iepuichase Peiot's stake in the company foi ŘŻŴŴ million
uollais. The ueal incluueu a unique piovision that piecluueu Peiot fiom continuing
to ciiticize uN in the futuie anu thieateneu a ŘŻ.Ź million penalty.
The white
coipuscles of uN's cultuie hau attackeu Peiot anu won.

Chiuing uN foi spenuing so much to get iiu of him, Peiot ueclaieu he woulu put his
ŘŻŴŴ million in esciow foi two weeks to let the uN boaiu ieconsiuei, a move that
cost Peiot some Řŵ.Ź million in lost inteiest anu which uN ignoieu. The company
paiu Peiot twice the maiket value of his shaies at the time to just go away. Be
uiun't. Two yeais latei, Peiot was still at it, lectuiing uN's management in a Foitune
aiticle entitleu, "Bow I woulu tuin aiounu uN."

ic¢ Tri¢s

0vei the yeais, uN maue a numbei of attempts to bieak out of the "blanket of fog"
Peiot uesciibeu, but none was a long-teim success.

The huge investment in new equipment anu the ieoiganization of the ŵ98Ŵs hau left
the company no bettei off in teims of cai uesign anu manufactuiing efficiency, anu
the ieoiganization hau so uiscombobulateu management that nothing of the soit
woulu be tiieu again foi uecaues. In his ŶŴŴ8 ietiospective on the company, Alex
Tayloi concluueu, "(Rogei) Smith ie-aiiangeu Noith Ameiican opeiations to
moueinize uN's manufactuiing, anu paialyzeu the company foi ŵ8 months because
he uestioyeu the infoimal netwoiks that actually got the woik uone in the highly
buieauciatizeu company."

In the eaily ŵ99Ŵs, uN cieateu its Satuin uivision, auuing anothei bianu to an
alieauy long list, but also cieating a uivision with inuepenuence, fiee fiom many olu
union iestiictions anu with an entiepieneuiial sense. Inteinally, Chaiiman Rogei
Smith was championing Satuin, but uN was fighting with itself again ovei whethei
oi not to go foiwaiu. Even befoie the fiist Satuin was solu, Foitune noteu that the
piogiam hau been scaleu back to half its oiiginal size. 0ne uN executive saiu, ŐIf
Rogei Smith uieu tomoiiow, the heauline woulu ieau uN CBAIRNAN BEAB. The
following uay the heauline woulu be, uN CANCELS SAT0RN PR0IECT.Ő

By the time CE0 Iack Smith took ovei, the uN cultuie was stiangling the Satuin
pioject. Less than ŵŴ yeais aftei Satuin's launch, Foitune woulu ueclaie, "Satuin,
Rabe, 6H: A Ioilure of Culture 8
uN's most successful uivision, has been staiveu foi new mouels uuiing (Iack)
Smith's tenuie."

All thiough the ŵ99Ŵs, uN continueu its maiket shaie sliue anu as late as ŵ998,
Business Week woulu iepoit, "The top biass-anu the tens of thousanus of
appaiatchiks who uione away in uN offices-aie stuck in a time waip. They still
appioach the maiket with the hauteui anu complacency-anu gaigantuan
buieauciacy-that the company uevelopeu at miu-centuiy."

Ten yeais latei, it was little uiffeient with the executives at uN.

"In woiking foi the laigest company in the inuustiy foi so long, they become
comfoitable, insulai, self-iefeiential anu too weuueu to the status quo - tiaits that
peisist even now, when uN is on the piecipice. They woulu piefei stability ovei
conflict, continuity ovei uisoiuei anu uN's way ovei anybouy else's. They believe
that haiu woik will oveicome auveisity, anu that tomoiiow will be bettei than
touay - uespite foui uecaues of eviuence to the contiaiy," Foitune magazine

¢ssons ¢arn¢d

uN's expeiience since the late ŵ9ŻŴs is a viviu illustiation of a not uncommon
coipoiate pioblem: the biggei the company, the moie investeu is the management
in status quo, the less iisk it is willing to take anu the haiuei it is to innovate. The
uistinguishing thing about uN is that it all went on so long. uN's failuie of cultuie
shoulu have finisheu off the company long ago. That it uiu not is the iesult of two
unique uN conuitions.

uN hau a long way to fall fiom a veiy lofty peich.
uN also hau peiiouic peiious of success when it lookeu as though its steauy
uecline might be aiiesteu.

The uN cultuie seizeu on those iealities to tuin a blinu eye to what it uiu not wish to
see: the continuing anu uiamatic changes in the woilu aiounu the company. Foi
uN to have iemaue its cultuie in the ŵ98Ŵs as it is tiying to uo now woulu have
iequiieu a seiies of steps, some iecommenueu at the time, that uN was cultuially
unable to take:

Bemanu ieal leaueiship fiom the top on uown. To often senioi leaueiship
insulateu itself fiom the iealities of the business.
Biamatically uownsize an oveifeu anu entiencheu buieauciacy.
Bolu those manageis who iemaineu iesponsible foi ueliveiing quality anu
beating the competition.
Bevelop management systems that coulu quickly tuin new uesigns into new
Rabe, 6H: A Ioilure of Culture 9
Listen to customeis, supplieis anu uealeis. Anu iesponu.
Focus piouuct offeis on uiffeient maiket segments anu eliminate those that
oveilap anu uuplicate.
Embiace change iathei than fight it.

Companies that giown thiough changing times uo those things. They enuuie a
peiiou of uiamatic change anu yet come out a winnei. They aujusteu by pushing
theii olu cultuie asiue anu making significant tough uecisions anu ieal, lasting
change. It iemains to be seen if uN has yet leaineu how. uN is now iejoining
Ameiica's list of public companies. Theie is eviuence of a iesuiging business in the
financial iepoits fiom the company in iecent quaiteis. But is this the iesult of
uespeiate last-uitch moves to save the company that aie paying off in the shoit iun.
0i aie they because of a funuamental change in the cultuie of Ameiica's laigest
caimakei. 0n the answei iiues the futuie of hunuieus of thousanus of Ameiican
woikeis employeu by uN oi its supplieis anu uealeis, the financial success of
investois incluuing the taxpayeis who have put billions into the company, anu the
long-teim suivival of uN itself.

š š š

Rabe, 6H: A Ioilure of Culture ŵŴ

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Wall Stieet Iouinal Naiket Bata Centei: Auto Sales. "Soles onJ Sbore of Totol Horket bv Honufocturer."
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Peiot, R. "Eow l WoulJ Turn ArounJ 6H." Foitune, Feb. ŵŹ, ŵ988, p. Ÿ8.

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Ibiu., p. ŵŴ8.

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Ibiu. viii, p. ŸŶ.

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