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BMWs Corporate Culture and Competitive Advantage

Can you explain how BMW uses corporate culture to provide the company with a competitive advantage in the highly competitive automotive industry?


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The Power of the Workforce: An Entrepreneurial Culture

Bavarian Motor Works (BMW) has figured out the key to increasing sales, decades after facing issues that threatened the company's survival. According to corporate lore, in 1959 the company nearly went bankrupt and was at risk for takeover from its' chief competitor, Mercedes. As a result of this near death experience, "BMW has been running scared for years"(Edmondson, 2006). In response to this crisis, the company has evolved into a dynamic, flexible competitor, utilizing employee' ideas and rewarding employee flexibility to outperform other companies in the automobile industry.

BMW distinguishes itself through its' willingness to listen to employees and act upon their ideas. The company has taken this concept so deep within its' corporate culture that it designs building and factory layouts to encourage interaction between engineers, line operators, and management. BMW's factory in Leipzig uses airy spaces to "improve communications between line workers and managers and create an environment that helps the company build cars better" (Edmondson, 2006). Furthermore, the concept of the car is always present, focusing employees' thoughts on quality, design and improvement. Edmondson's article describes how unfinished car bodies move along a track that run through the workspace of employees, effecting the rhythm and feel of the operation. The parade is such that should it slow, workers throughout the operation become attune to a problem needing to be solved, and in the spirit of the company, work together to resolve issues. The open design of the building causes workers from all aspects of the operation to cross paths, encouraging the open exchange of ideas.

This interaction drives quality for the automotive manufacturer. Quality control is applied from start to finish in the process of producing cars. The company demands suppliers adhere to quality specifications, and ultimately, all cars have a full pre-delivery inspection prior to being delivered to the customer. Furthermore, each automobile is given a full quality check after assembly, and weekly quality audits are performed in a public plaza to continue to reinforce quality as part of the guiding principles of the ...

Solution Summary

This extremely detailed solution explains how BMW uses corporate culture to provide the company with a compeitive advantage. APA references are included.