General Motors Organizational Structure

  • General Motors employs an organizational structure underpinned by multiple regional divisions. As a global car seller, this helps the company account for differences between the various markets it operates in. Each division also oversees support functions such as finance, information systems, purchasing, and logistics.
  • A secondary component of GM’s organizational structure is the two business-type divisions of GM Automotive and GM Financial. The former houses each regional division, while the latter pertains to vehicle leasing, financing, maintenance, and insurance.
  • GM is also supported by numerous corporate, function-based groups that are headed by a so-called Corporate Officer. Some of these groups include GM China, Global Information Technology, Accounting Services, and Global Communications. There is also a 13-member Board of Directors headed by current CEO Mary Barra.

Introduction

General Motors is an American multinational vehicle manufacturer headquartered in Detroit, Michigan, and founded by William C. Durant, Charles Stewart Mott, and Frederic L. Smith in 1908.

General Motors was the largest such manufacturer in the world for 77 years between 1931 and 2008, so it is perhaps no surprise to learn that the company employs an organizational structure underpinned by multiple regional divisions.

Below we will explain this divisional structure and some other aspects of the GM organizational structure in more detail.

Regional divisions

As a global company, General Motors utilizes regional divisions to help it account for differences between one geographic market and the next.

There are five such divisions:

  1. GMNA – General Motors North America.
  2. GME – General Motors Europe.
  3. GMSA – General Motors South America.
  4. GM AMEO – General Motors Africa & Middle East.
  5. GMAP – General Motors Asia-Pacific.

Each division has a regional headquarters which liaises with company headquarters in the United States. One characteristic of this divisional structure is interdepartmental competition, with several GM brands competing against each other in the same market.

After the Global Financial Crisis, however, the company was forced to accept a government bailout and institute a massive restructuring program. Many unprofitable brands were retired and each division was afforded more autonomy to market to particular consumer preferences. Each division now also oversees support functions such as finance, information systems, purchasing, logistics, corporate communications, and human resources,

Business-type divisions

General Motors is also structured around two business-type divisions:

  1. GM Automotive – which houses the five regional divisions noted above, and
  2. GM Financial – this incorporates a broad range of financial services including fleet leasing, consumer vehicle finance, dealer financing, commercial and vehicle insurance, and car and truck extended service contracts. 

Corporate, function-based groups.

The company is also underpinned by multiple corporate, function-based groups that are headed by a Corporate Officer.

These groups include:

  • Global Communications.
  • Tax. 
  • Global Human Resources.
  • Global Business Solutions.
  • Global Manufacturing and Sustainability.
  • Global Information Technology.
  • Global Product Development, Purchasing, and Supply Chain.
  • Strategy and Innovation.
  • Accounting Services.
  • GM China.
  • North America.
  • Global Public Policy.

General Motors also has a 13-member Board of Directors headed by current Chair and CEO Mary T. Barra. 

Read Next: What happened to General Motors?, The History of Tesla, Tesla Business Model.

Organizational Structure Case Studies

Airbnb Organizational Structure

airbnb-organizational-structure
Airbnb follows a holacracy model, or a sort of flat organizational structure, where teams are organized for projects, to move quickly and iterate fast, thus keeping a lean and flexible approach. Airbnb also moved to a hybrid model where employees can work from anywhere and meet on a quarterly basis to plan ahead, and connect to each other.

eBay Organizational Structure

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eBay was until recently a multi-divisional (M-form) organization with semi-autonomous units grouped according to the services they provided. Today, eBay has a single division called Marketplace, which includes eBay and its international iterations.

IBM Organizational Structure

ibm-organizational-structure
IBM has an organizational structure characterized by product-based divisions, enabling its strategy to develop innovative and competitive products in multiple markets. IBM is also characterized by function-based segments that support product development and innovation for each product-based division, which include Global Markets, Integrated Supply Chain, Research, Development, and Intellectual Property.

Sony Organizational Structure

sony-organizational-structure
Sony has a matrix organizational structure primarily based on function-based groups and product/business divisions. The structure also incorporates geographical divisions. In 2021, Sony announced the overhauling of its organizational structure, changing its name from Sony Corporation to Sony Group Corporation to better identify itself as the headquarters of the Sony group of companies skewing the company toward product divisions.

Facebook Organizational Structure

facebook-organizational-structure
Facebook is characterized by a multi-faceted matrix organizational structure. The company utilizes a flat organizational structure in combination with corporate function-based teams and product-based or geographic divisions. The flat organization structure is organized around the leadership of Mark Zuckerberg, and the key executives around him. On the other hand, the function-based teams based on the main corporate functions (like HR, product management, investor relations, and so on).

Google Organizational Structure

google-organizational-structure
Google (Alphabet) has a cross-functional (team-based) organizational structure known as a matrix structure with some degree of flatness. Over the years, as the company scaled and it became a tech giant, its organizational structure is morphing more into a centralized organization.

Tesla Organizational Structure

tesla-organizational-structure
Tesla is characterized by a functional organizational structure with aspects of a hierarchical structure. Tesla does employ functional centers that cover all business activities, including finance, sales, marketing, technology, engineering, design, and the offices of the CEO and chairperson. Tesla’s headquarters in Austin, Texas, decide the strategic direction of the company, with international operations given little autonomy.

McDonald’s Organizational Structure

mcdonald-organizational-structure
McDonald’s has a divisional organizational structure where each division – based on geographical location – is assigned operational responsibilities and strategic objectives. The main geographical divisions are the US, internationally operated markets, and international developmental licensed markets. And on the other hand, the hierarchical leadership structure is organized around regional and functional divisions.

Walmart Organizational Structure

walmart-organizational-structure
Walmart has a hybrid hierarchical-functional organizational structure, otherwise referred to as a matrix structure that combines multiple approaches. On the one hand, Walmart follows a hierarchical structure, where the current CEO Doug McMillon is the only employee without a direct superior, and directives are sent from top-level management. On the other hand, the function-based structure of Walmart is used to categorize employees according to their particular skills and experience.

Microsoft Organizational Structure

microsoft-organizational-structure
Microsoft has a product-type divisional organizational structure based on functions and engineering groups. As the company scaled over time it also became more hierarchical, however still keeping its hybrid approach between functions, engineering groups, and management.

Read Next: Organizational Structure

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