A hybrid of Japanese and American parents, NUMMI provides a case study of the successful introduction of a new production system. By working on the assembly line in the NUMMI plant and interviewing hundreds of people, the authors observed the transformation of an out-of-date General Motors auto plant into the world-class assembly operation it is today. Their study has implications for other organizations that are trying to learn from each other, particularly across national borders. Their findings also show how organizational culture plays a central role in companies that are adapting to a constantly changing environment.
An earlier version of this paper was presented at a conference, “The Challenge of Multinational Competition,” sponsored by the Carnegie-Bosch Institute, Carnegie-Mellon University, held in Stuttgart, Germany, in May 1993. The paper is based on Wellford Wilms’ book, Restoring Prosperity, to be published by Times Books, Random House in 1995. The authors wish to thank Nils Brunsson, Stockholm School of Business; Noritake Kobayashi, Keio University; Janice Klein, MIT Sloan School of Management; and Alexander Astin, UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Studies.