Vehicle ignitions aren't the only problem at GM

General Motors Chief Executive Officer Mary Barra (center), Mark Reuss (left), Executive Vice President, and Dan Ammann (right), President, hold a press conference at the General Motors Technical Center on June 5, 2014 in Warren, Michigan. Barra spoke to provide an update on GM's internal investigation into the ignition switch recall at the General Motors Technical Center. 

General Motors CEO Mary Barra has responded to the auto recalls by firing 15 employees. She also ordered a compensation plan for the victims of the deadly auto defects.

After a report from an internal investigation was released, Barra said the company has some culture issues.

"Mary Barra has made this point that General Motors used to be a cost-focused culture, and now it’s becoming more customer-focused," says Micki Maynard, Director of the Reynolds Center for Business Journalism at the Cronkite School at Arizona State. "But if you read the report, things were going on in 2012 and 2013. It’s not like all of this was ten or fifteen years ago, this is very recent stuff. So I think there’s going to be a lot of work to do."

So if GM culture hasn’t improved in the last few years, what will it take for it to change?

"Maybe nothing can change it," says Maynard. "It might be that General Motors is the way it is, and you have to manage around that. In a good financial situation, you do just fine. But when things go bad, you end up in bankruptcy and need a bailout."

About the author

Kai Ryssdal is the host and senior editor of Marketplace, public radio’s program on business and the economy.

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