Volkswagen CEO: Some Managers Are Resisting Changes To Corporate Culture

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Following the apparent culmination of the Volkswagen diesel emissions cheating scandal, the German giant has been on something of a PR blitz, seemingly trying to convince onlookers that the company has refocused and will now be embracing electric vehicles, self-driving tech, etc.

Apparently, though, there is still a lot of internal resistance to this change of course, going by recent comments made by the Volkswagen CEO Matthias Müller.

Changing the company’s culture on the managerial level hasn’t been a simple thing, according to Mueller, which shouldn’t be surprising — after companies have been around as long as Volkswagen, they tend to become inflexible and slow to change.

“There are definitely people who are longing for the old centralistic leadership,” commented Mueller, during a discussion with business representatives in Hanover. “I don’t know whether you can imagine how difficult it is to change their mindset.”

“Of course there are anxieties, it’s not an easy undertaking [to overcome]” VW’s long tradition of management hierarchies, he continued. “The only question is how long will it take?”

Reuters provides more: “But efforts to convince people in Volkswagen’s (VW) broad middle management of the need to change are still proving tough 20 months after dieselgate broke, said chief executive Matthias Mueller, who became CEO of Volkswagen in September 2015. … Separately, Mueller criticized practices of US ride-hailing firm Uber as VW is stepping up efforts to compete in the market for on-demand transportation with its new digital division MOIA.”

“‘I would not want us to be compared culturally with Uber,’ the CEO said, calling Uber a company that is simple in its structure. ‘That is no role model for us.'”

Mueller didn’t seem to comment on or compare VW to Tesla — you know the media would mention that if he did. However, he also made some interesting comments relating to battery cell production for electric vehicles (which seems to quietly relate to Tesla and its Gigafactories), noting that: “Of course we will at some point need many such factories (to mass produce battery cells) around the world. But if energy costs in Germany are what they are, then they (factories) will not be based in Germany.” That is my own take on the matter, but I know that some here disagree with me. …

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James Ayre

James Ayre's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy.

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