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Chrysler and BMW Joint Venture

Please answer each of the following questions using the case "Chrysler and BMW..." (Harvard Business School case, no. 9-600-004) by H. Kent Bowen.

1) Which engine block sealing design should Jack Smith choose and why? How should he make the decision: by fiat, with senior managers, or in a more general meeting?

2) What type of organizational structure did Chrysler most closely resemble during Lee Iacocca's tenure? In the years following Iacocca's tenure, what changes did Chrysler make regarding product development projects and what were the results of these changes?

3) What motivated the joint venture between Chrysler and BMW? What are some key factors that may have increased or decreased the joint venture's likelihood of success?

4) Briefly summarize the cost, time, and scope constraints for this project. What did Smith do to ensure that everyone understood the metrics that would determine project success?

5) What was Smith's approach to integrating product design and manufacturing? Did it work, why or why not?

6) Project managers often have to make decisions under conditions of uncertainty with imperfect information. What steps did Smith take to minimize uncertainty and maximize available information? Which tools, analyses, or other information are most critical to the engine block sealing decision and why?

Solution Preview

1) Using senior managers to help in the decision process affords an opportunity for dissenting views to be heard and considered. Ultimately though, Jack Smith is the project leader of the TRITEC Joint Venture, and the decision rests with him.
In my opinion, the comparison results in all charts lead to the choice of the Bedplate. Even in a worse case scenario, the number of warranty conditions per 1000 conditions was lowest for the Bedplate Design. Make your own choice using statistics which support your choice.

2) Lee Iacocca's organizational structure was anything but interactive in the early 80s. The established structure was described as developing new product in a silo or a chimney, with designers working in a vacuum with no lateral input from others. Engineers were handed designs and expected to make them manufacturable. Engineers had no opportunity for input into the design's beginnings and felt they were forced to make the designer's design work. Once the design was passed on to procurement and supply the same dilemma ensued. Once external studies of the overall industry and an internal study of Honda, which showed a much more profitable organizational structure, were analysed, Chrysler began ...

Solution Summary

Evaluation of case study with concluding opinion

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