Case | HBS Case Collection | May 1994 (Revised August 1994)

Motorola-Elma

by Shoshana Zuboff and Janis Lee Gogan

Abstract

Motorola's old automative electronics plant in Arcade, outside Buffalo, New York, faced the prospect of closure in the mid-1980s, but leading customers persuaded Motorola to give the plant a second chance. The new plant manager, Dennis Fiehn, recognized that existing practices had to change if the plant was to remain competitive. He pushed for fewer supervisory layers, flexible job boundaries, cross-training, team-based production, and more active problem solving. The move to a modern plant in nearby Elma (1989) coincided with a new corporate-wide push for higher quality and cycle-time goals and more participative management. Soon operators were performing functions previously restricted to supervisors, technicians, and skilled workers. Supervisors, now team leaders, delegated more responsibility and became more like coaches. The plant was now recognized as a strong performer and slated for expansion.

Keywords: Factories, Labs, and Plants; Business Exit or Shutdown; Customers; Leading Change; Management Analysis, Tools, and Techniques; Organizational Structure; Competitive Strategy; Expansion; Telecommunications Industry; New York (state, US);

Citation:

Zuboff, Shoshana, and Janis Lee Gogan. "Motorola-Elma." Harvard Business School Case 494-136, May 1994. (Revised August 1994.)