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    Saturn Corporation

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    The case of Saturn Corporation (a wholly owned subsidiary of General Motors from 1984 to 1994) outlines the successful and unique adaptation of a new approach to organizing in the U.S. automobile industry. The organization represents many of the characteristics typified by "Quality of Work Life" programs, and allows students to see the benefits of a cooperative and customer-focused HRM approach. Please answer the following questions:

    1. What aspects of quality of work life (QWL) programs does the experiment at the Saturn plant illustrate?

    2. How can Saturn assure that employees have not only the willingness to take responsibility but also the ability to do so?

    3. In this case, a completely new company was started with considerable autonomy from General Motors. Why do you think so many large organizations turn to "greenfield" operations such as this when undertaking major changes in corporate culture and operations? Do you foresee any problems down the road for GM in this regard?

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    Solution Preview

    Please see response attached. I hope this helps and take care.

    RESPONSE:

    1. What aspects of quality of work life (QWL) programs does the experiment at the Saturn plant illustrate?

    In general, three main objectives for the QWL Initiative:

    ? Improve employee satisfaction;
    ? Strengthen workplace learning; and
    ? Better manage on-going change and transition (http://www.hhs.gov/ohr/qwl/about/objectives.htm).

    However, Saturn would probably have chosen objectives specific to their needs (see example 2 for this analyze, which I pointed out a few areas where QWL is employed at Saturn). However, you might need to do some additional research.
    Let's take a look at the following example of how a company successfully applied QWL objectives:

    Example 1: Application of QWL (excerpt)

    Secretary Shalala identified three main objectives for the QWL Initiative:

    ? Improve employee satisfaction;
    ? Strengthen workplace learning; and
    ? Better manage on-going change and transition

    About QWL Strategy -

    OPDIVs were asked to develop QWL plans designed to, at a minimum, accomplish the following:

    ? Improve communication with employees;
    ? Strengthen family friendly programs;
    ? Provide all employees with Internet access;
    ? Increase investment in workplace learning;
    ? Improve the effectiveness of supervisors ...

    Solution Summary

    Referring to the Saturn case, this solution explains the aspects of quality of work life (QWL) programs that the experiment at the Saturn plant illustrates. It also explains how Saturn can assure that employees have not only the willingness to take responsibility but also the ability to do so and why so many large organizations turn to "greenfield" operations such as this when undertaking major changes in corporate culture and operations. Potential problems down the road for GM in this regard are also explored.

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