A company’s most important strategic resources are those assets that give the company a unique, competitive advantage over its rivals. Additionally, a company must be able to exploit a strategic resource for it to be valuable (De Kluyver & Pearce, 2012). Daniel has proposed the following five strategic resources for consideration as General Motors’s top strategic resources: manufacturing facilities in strategic North American locations, progressive human resource policies, the strength of the GM brand, industry knowledge and experience, and innovative intellectual property and patents.
On this list, the most important and strongest strategic asset is the GM and associated brands. This is an asset that others may have substitutes for, but the GM brand itself is unique. Customers are extremely loyal to the brand, even when faced with bad news. For example, after a recent recall of 7 Million vehicles with faulty ignition switches, GM managed to still maintain very high customer loyalty. This is even more impressive considering GM’s bailout by the US government during the recession. Additionally, the GM brand is not imitable. Although other brands are a substitute, GM’s loyal customers are their own. Finally, the company is able to capitalize on their brand’s success as seen in the aftermath of bailouts and recalls (Passikoff, 2014). The GM brand clearly passes De Kluyver and Pearce’s tests for what makes a strategic resource valuable (2012).
I am hesitant to include GM’s human resources as a top strategic resource. At one time, GM was paying an estimated $73 per hour for a typical worker while other companies were paying $44. Additionally, Steve Rattner has described GM’s management at this time as “stunningly poor” (Altner, 2013). That being said, things have improved since the government bailout, and GM is now only paying $58 an hour for the average worker. This number is still higher than every other manufacturer with US-based plants other than Mercedes-Benz (Szal, 2015). It could be that GM has one of the best automotive manufacturing workforces in the United States. Based on their history with the United Auto Workers (UAW), it seems far more likely that GM is still overpaying for their workforce.
Perhaps it makes sense to develop the human resource angle a bit further and focus more on what GM is doing to turn around that “stunningly poor” management. GM has developed a program especially designed for students who have recently completed their undergraduate degrees to advance their careers in the Technical Rotation and Career Knowledge (TRACK) program. Each program targets a specific area of operation and rotates the candidate through several departments over the course of two to three years. The goal of the TRACK program is to develop future leaders at GM with cross-functional experience (General Motors, 2015).
Altner, D. (May 20, 2013). What Explains GM’s Problems With The UAW? Forbes. Retrieved September 11, 2015, from http://www.forbes.com/sites/realspin/2013/05/20/what-explains-gms-problems-with-the-uaw/.
De Kluyver, C. & Pearce, J. (2012). Strategy: A View From the Top (4th ed.). Boston: Prentice Hall.
General Motors. (2015). TRACK. Retrieved September 11, 2015, from http://careers.gm.com/student-center/track.html.
Passikoff, R. (April 30, 2014). Brand Loyalty Recalls: Ford, General Motors, Hyundai, & Toyota. Forbes. Retrieved September 11, 2015, from http://www.forbes.com/sites/robertpassikoff/2014/04/30/brand-loyalty-recalls-ford-general-motors-hyundai-toyota/.
Szal, A. (March 24, 2015). Report: GM, Ford Could Seek Lower Wage Tier From UAW. Retrieved September 11, 2015, from http://www.manufacturing.net/news/2015/03/report-gm-ford-could-seek-lower-wage-tier-from-uaw.