How Volkswagen is run like no other car company
By John McElroy
Dec 6th 2012
Volkswagen is run very differently than every other automaker. Actually, its corporate structure looks more like General Motors did from 1920 to 1970. In other words, VW now looks like the GM that was once the largest and most profitable corporation in the world.
VW is not in any danger of having other automakers copying its corporate structure. Most are unaware of VW's modus operandi, and besides, by traditional business school metrics, VW looks like a productivity basket case.
Any efficiency expert would tell you that VW is too vertically integrated, has too much overlap and duplication, and has way too many brands. VW, meanwhile, keeps growing bigger, stronger and more profitable.
The give-away that Volkswagen Group is run differently from every other car company lies with the fact that it employs a staggering 549,300 people globally. Fortune magazine lists it as the eighth largest employer in the world, behind giants such as Walmart and the Chinese post office. VW has almost as many full-time employees as General Motors (213,000), Ford (164,000) and Fiat-Chrysler (197,000) put together. While those three behemoths collectively built 19 million vehicles last year, VW "only" built 8.5 million.
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