Organization Development


  • Author Sharilynn Hanslo
  • Published March 31, 2022
  • Word count 1,619


In this case study, we will identify the factors that influenced workplace issues by researching the significant areas of concern at General Motors that resulted in a national strike. The goal is to identify core problems within General Motors by performing an in-depth analysis of their strategic, operational procedures and evaluating the data to determine the cause and effect of employees' and establish ethical and efficient management is executed. We will also be analyzing organizational behavior within various levels of business development and suggest strategies to improve the working conditions of employees. People are central to the success of a business; thus, an organization is highly dependent on practical and ethical management conduct and the competency and happiness of its employees who occupy various levels of operations within an organization's hierarchy.

GM a brief history

General Motors, a multinational corporation based in the United States and was founded on 16 September 1908. Detroit, Michigan, is the headquarters of General Motors (GM), an American multinational corporation that designs, manufactures, distributes vehicle parts, and offers financial services. GM is one of the most recognizable and well-known brands globally, with an instantly recognizable logo since it has been around as early as the turn of the 19th century. In many ways, General Motors is synonymous with of old corporate America due to its long history and historical contribution to the automotive industry. GM is also viewed as a company that once embraced and encouraged the philosophy of the American dream in its core values. According to the definition of the American dream, it is a philosophy of equal opportunity, allowing anyone to reach their highest aspirations. By contrast, GM has failed to live up to the American dream given the conditions employed by temporary workers. GM has sought to rise above adversity, rebrand its image in order regain its former reputation as a global dominating corporation. However, General Motors has been plagued by internal and external challenges such as competition, the controversy surrounding defective vehicles, unethical labor law practices, and the closure of plants led to the 2019 national strike, the first major strike in the American automotive industry over a decade. Therefore, the central focus of this case study will focus on the working conditions of GM employees from the perspective of organizational psychology and use scientific research to propose solutions to internal organizational challenges.

Challenges at General Motors

After the contract between GM and UAW ended, many workers were left with no job security and did not receive any form of compensation. The union stressed that GM employees were entitled to some form of compensation; this is particularly true for temporary workers, who performed the same duties as permanent workers but without receiving the same mandatory benefits or contracts. Although UAW aimed to negotiate better contracts through collective bargaining, General Motors and UAW disagreed early on; this resulted in a prolonged national strike that saw both General Motors and its employees suffer the loss of revenue and earnings.

The national strike was also due to various factors and organizational changes within GM, which negatively impacted both employees and GM. With the current crisis of shortage of chip semiconductors, GM CEO Mary Barra has raised some concerns with general motors' decision to shut down plants. This decision posed a threat to the United States automotive industry and the entire global automotive industry which resulted in the suppliers of the semiconductors directing their products to other industries, causing competition and shortage in the automotive industry.

This negatively impacted GM's profits causing financial difficulties that made it challenging for GM to pay its employees. Due to a lack of sufficient funds, the managers can not pay the employees and poses an additional threat to employee health insurance.

Proposed solutions

Cause and effect analysis

The first cause of action GM should take is to implement the cause-and-effect diagram to help management understand how the interface between human behavior and an organization works. To analyze organizational behavior, the cause-and-effect diagram, or fishbone diagram, uses a variety of metrics, tools, and scientific research methods such as meta-analyses and deductive processing to find core issues within an organization. Using the cause-and-effect diagram, it allows an organization to do an in-depth analysis of its operational procedures. By implementing the cause-and-effect diagram, we can assist employees by identifying core issues that result in job dissatisfaction and attempt to find solutions to some of those problems.

Cause and effect diagram assists in the following.

• Evaluate individuals and organizations

• Identify the major challenges within an organization

Develop a plan for risk mitigation

• Propose organizational solutions eg, Maslow's hierarchy of needs and organizational learning strategies

• Identity the effectiveness of training programs' proposed solutions.

General Motors needs to focus on regaining their employees' trust by improving quality control, employee satisfaction and ensuring ethical procedures are present in all areas of business development. One of the main issues is job uncertainty, low wages leading to decreased motivation. (Which relates to the hygiene factor theory) Since employees are unhappy and demotivated. A combination of Herzberg's motivation-hygiene dual-factor theory should be implemented along with Maslow's hierarchy of needs to increase motivation and increase employee job satisfaction.

Maslow's hierarchy of needs

Maslow's theory focuses on fulfilling physiological needs, which are the basic survival needs, followed by safety needs, which emphasize the importance of job security and health; following this are social needs, which address recognition, acceptance, and love. Furthermore, encouraging self-actualization offers employees the opportunity to maximize their potential. The wellness and happiness of General Motors employees remain a central and essential part of the company. The Unhappiness of GM employees in the workplace is caused by poor remuneration, underappreciation, and lack of support from colleagues and management. Low wages decrease safety and their ability to meet personal needs thus;, the employees should be paid salaries or wages to sustain their basic needs.

Additionally, they should be provided with contracts, and their health insurance funds must be reinstated. All employees at General Motors, regardless of race or gender, should be eligible for mandatory company benefits and bonus incentives through performance-based appraisals and be provided opportunities for growth within the company; these benefits must be extended to workers under temporary contracts.

Herzberg's motivation-hygiene dual-factor theory

Employee satisfaction consists of two parts: "hygiene" and "motivation." Hygiene factors, such as salaries and recognition, decrease employee dissatisfaction with the workplace, the presence of motivational factors such as recognition and achievement increases productivity, creativity, and teamwork. In the absence of hygiene factors in the workplace, employees show less motivation to work; thus, it is in the best interest of GM to employ these strategies since it improves working conditions and help sustain productivity in order to boost profit margins..

Many of the theories listed above have proven effective in solving workplace issues. However, General Motors is a large corporation, and it will be challenging for one manager to oversee and solve every problem the company faces. Thus, GM needs to employ more organizational psychologists to assist executive management with the company's transformation processes. Since organization psychologists are skilled at implementing organizational strategies in the workplace it can assistant in executive management in this regard. Organization growth and competitiveness depend on many factors: high-quality products, well-trained teams, motivated and committed employees; therefore, it is critical for a business to identify and resolve workplace issues at an individual and an organizational level,

As a final suggestion to GM, I would like to suggest introducing organizational learning (OL) to improve productivity, maintain worker satisfaction, and foster creativity to encourage innovation. The purpose of organizational learning is to encourage employees and other groups to interact and learn from each other and help them pursue a creative vision, learn, and collaborate effectively, and adapt to change. I/O psychologists use organizational learning programs to implement-and enhance-beneficial changes which involve management, assessment, and statistics.

OL organizational learning

Knowledge is created, retained, and transferred within organizations through organizational learning. Applying organizational learning in the workplace allows organizations to stay ahead of core issues. Organizational learning improves a wide range of critical human resource operations, such as job and employee satisfaction, by monitoring ethical conduct within an organization and addressing several aspects of human resource management problems, including employee morale, productivity, and employee behavior. GM should implement OL methods to challenge themselves and encourage innovation. OL will also help GM avoid using business models that have become obsolete or stagnate the creativity of employees. Furthermore, this adaptive business model can help unleash everyone's collective aspiration within an organization.


James Autry, a leadership, and management coach, captured the fundamental core and heart of an organization when he said, "There is no business, there are only people." Business exists only among people and for people," (Carter, 2020) An organization is highly dependent on practical and ethical management conduct as well the competency and happiness of its employees who occupy various levels of operations within an organization. For General Motors to function optimally and succeed, it can only do if the people are competent, skilled at their jobs, and possesses the necessary experience, training, and qualifications to lead others.

Culture and people are also two essential components of any organization, as is the division of labor within the management that should work together harmoniously towards a shared goal.

The corporate vision of General Motors is "to become the world's most valuable automotive company." The temporary workers who participated in the strike now have permanent contracts. However, General Motors remains a work in progress in need of management changes and organizational reforms to achieve the fantastic heights it once had.

To achieve this, A future version of General Motors should embody modern corporate American culture, one that values inclusivity, technological innovation, and ethical treatment of everyone.

Sharing is an O/I research psychologist currently completing her master's degree in Business management and organizational psychology. She's passionate about psychology and human behavior, particularly the "organizational" side of the field which focuses on compliance management regulations, employee behavior, and mental health. Check out some of her other articles on her personal blog

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