THE DEEP DIVISIONS and bitter wrangling inside General Motors Europe may have a solution: better communications from the top down.
For the past several months we've witnessed a sad degeneration of what was once the jewel of GM's worldwide operations. Earnings and share have fallen in a tough competitive environment. That is understandable. But the internal ruckus and vicious infighting are not.
The controversy has become highly personal, but the differences remain largely philosophical. Opel executives and engineers complain that they are strained by GM's globalization drive, which uses Opel products as a platform.
The finger-pointing has become more intense in recent months, not less. The focus of blame is now on Lou Hughes, president of General Motors International Operations. Critics say he is mortgaging Opel's future in Europe to expand around the world.
The former Opel boss is a strong personality. Some of his underlings have rebelled, claiming that he hoards too much authority and makes too many mistakes.
Even Hughes' backers concede that their boss has management 'style problems.'
But it is hard to fault Hughes' push into global markets. Neither can he be blamed personally for economic problems in other parts of the world.
It is also hard to believe that he has some sort of vendetta against Opel and Germany.
Still, he has failed to win the hearts and minds of many of his top executives.
Hughes may some day become chairman of General Motors and he may be deserving. But he will probably have to refine his communications skills between now and then.