Fuyao's U.S. Entry: Cultural Clashes in the Reopened GM Factory - Essay Sample

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  7
Wordcount:  1891 Words
Date:  2023-08-13


In 2014, Fuyao, a Chinese multibillion-dollar company, purchased a section of a closed General Motors assembly plant in Ohio State. The purchase helped to create thousands of employment opportunities and, at the same time, helped to restore a local industrial sector that was facing a tough time since General Motors closed down in the 2008 recession. This reopening was met with great excitement. However, after a while, there were clear instances of cultural clashes between the Americans and the Chinese. These clashes contributed to growing pains that eventually caused unexpected pushback between the two cultures. The film American Factory (2019) was born to examine the concept of "freedom" that the people were promised at the reopening of the Fuyao Company.

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The writers and filmmakers of this documentary Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert, are a couple who live outside Dayton had made a recording of the closure of the General Motors plant in 2008. The couple created this documentary to tell a tale of people who undergo massive changes in the name of freedom. The result of this tale is a sophisticated, timely, stirring, and beautifully shaped story that stretches across continents as it analyzes the past, present, and possible future of American labor. Moreover, the story is in line with Reichert's previous stories as it identifies the struggles of American extremism and its conflicts with the country's capitalist infrastructure. Her previous works include Union Maids, which tells a story of the historical efforts of women to organize in the 1930s as well as Seeing Red, which is a documentary that tracked the development of the American Communist Party. Both of these films were nominated for the Oscars (Sims, 2019 par. 4).

The story features essential characters. Some of them include Cao Dewang (referred to as "Chairman Cao" who is the president of Fuyao, Junming 'Jimmy' Wang, who is the Vice President of Fuyao, Robert Allen (Robby) who plays as a Furnace Off-Loader and Sherrod Brown who is the U.S. Senator of Ohio. These characters play a critical role as they depict the relationship that existed between the workers and the leaders in the film. The senator is identified as a transformational leader as he is the instigator and monitor of change and is responsible for accepting Fuyao to operate in his state.

Jimmy Wang and Robby Allen are key players as they represent the voices of the management and the workers, respectively. They also depict the roles and challenges that managers and the workers experience while under the employment of Fuyao industries. Furthermore, other characters such as John Crane and Shawnea Rosser, among others, also play a vital role as their optimism and disappointments facilitate the film with emotional through-line and, at the same time, provide a bright contrast between the management and the workers (Dargis 2019, par 9). The continuous interactions between managers and the staff open up the audience to the apparent tension and even hostility that exists between the staff and the supervisory team.

The film features a complete snapshot of an evolving or devolving industry where there is an evident clash between globalism and cultural compatibility. One of the most significant events in this film is the reopening of the General Motors warehouse as it was met with a lot of enthusiasm and depicts that the success of the new corporation was reliant on the failure of the current staff to make a comfortable living.

Without the departure of the previous company and laying off of thousands of workers who were dependent on the company to make a living, Fuyao would not have been able to operate due to the lack of operating space and an insufficient number of employees. Another significant event is when people start to question whether they are getting their labor rights as employees of Fuyao. This event is captioned by the apparent tensions between management and the staff, questions about working hours and compensations, as well as the request for a union for the employees. All these actions depict the process of individual and group change that was bound to translate into organizational and cultural change.

Leading Change Analysis

The documentary identifies the changes that took place to repair and propel the glass company to success. These changes were as a result of the apparent cultural tension that was as a result of combining Chinese and American working cultures. The differences in these cultures created a hostile environment for both the management and the workers. This hostility was illustrated by the obvious antagonism between supervisors and workers as well as between the workers themselves. As a result, the performance of the company deteriorated and would have resulted in the closure of the business if a change was not enacted. All aspects of change, including individual, team, and organizational change, had to be considered. For this change to be successful, change agents, as well as leaders suitable for instigating change, had to be identified.

Individual Change

Why was there very little attention paid to the emotional side of the American workers, particularly at the beginning of the movie and in the first six months of Fuyao Glass opening the Dayton, Ohio?

The majority of the new workers lost their jobs in that very same location two years earlier. As a result, they were more excited to start working, even though the pay was lower than the average wage they had received with the previous company. According to Cameron and Green (2015), American supervisors have been in-tune with the process of loss through the Kubler-Ross model. This model suggests that people generally experience five stages before they come into terms with their conditions. These phases include denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and finally, acceptance (p. 50). As a result, an assumption was made that the unemployment period was enough for workers to come into terms with their condition. This was evident in the excited and euphoric praise that was present when Fuyao first opened.

The beginning of the tale presents the hopes of the workers, which are displayed. For instance, the newly transferred Chinese people were looking forward to starting a new life in the United States and the former General Motors employee who, upon re-employment, hopes to work her way back into the middle-class society (Dargis, 2019 par. 3). Cameron and Green (2015) also point out that how an individual thinks determines how he or she feels and reacts (p. 43). Therefore, the employees' positive attitude towards the new opportunity was a kind gesture as it reinforced their enthusiasm towards work.

The enthusiasm to get back to work started to fade when the employees realized that they had to conform to the Chinese culture of submission and regimentation as a form of gratitude to the employers. The managers' expectations that employees had to work for six or seven days a week without complaining contributed to the friction that was developing between the staff and the management. Cameron and Green (2015) explained that people's deeply held values or self-concepts are central to their beliefs or primary determinants. Thus, their values influence their beliefs, which in turn influence their attitudes that eventually influence their behaviors (43). Therefore, attempting to change or expecting the American workers to conform to the Chinese cultural work behavior would have been met with resistance since the Americans are deeply rooted in their beliefs and freedoms concerning work. Such freedoms may include safety precautions, lunch breaks, and days off. To the Chinese counterparts, these examples were forms of decadent and lazy American indulges that only served to reduce productivity. As a result, this change would only be met with resistance and pushback from the American employees (Dargis, 2019 par. 5).

From the film, it is clear that to facilitate personal change, it is necessary to address the emotional side of their employees, especially before or during change. Addressing the emotional aspect means that the instigator will encourage the employee to identify how they limit themselves through using the old ways of thinking and how beneficial it will be for the employee to replace it with new ways of thinking. Thus, individuals will focus more on what they want to achieve over a given period. For instance, supervisors would set targets with the subordinates that each employee needs to achieve by the end of the day and or week. As a result, the employee would be motivated to achieve the target and may sacrifice some of their free time to ensure they achieve their goals.

Team Change

Were there any teams or groups in the company? What integration processes were made to integrate the different groups that existed in the company?

According to Cameron and Green (2015), a clear distinction between a team and a group exist in that a group comprises people that interact and are aware of each other psychologically. On the other hand, a team is a set of people who interdependently and interact to accomplish shared objectives (p. 82). Fuyao Company had two primary teams; the management and the subordinates. The company also had two different groups; the Chinese workers and the American workers.

The American workers viewed themselves as a distinct group that was united under the American values and freedoms in regards to work. Such freedoms included the incorporation of a worker's union, increased days off, and necessary safety precautions. On the other side, the Chinese workers were new immigrants who had been brought to the land of opportunity to build a new and happy life. The two groups clashed much due to the cultural differences that were present in regards to their work. These clashes greatly influenced the interaction of the two teams as the teams were further divided as per their groups.

The junior teams in the organization are further divided as per departments that are present in the company, such as the manufacturing team and loading and off-loading teams, among others. The management team is the overall team that was in-charge of employees and was responsible for the overall success or failure of the company. Each member of the team was in charge of one junior team and provided direction to the sub-units under their authority, creatively integrating co-dependent sub-units across crucial business processes. (Cameron & Green, 2015, p. 91).

Despite the accurate division of labor and authority, the influence of groups was creating problems that resulted in the necessary integration of both groups. The attempt by the management team to integrate the two groups by organizing and executing an instructional trip to China failed substantially as the American workers are only met by the militaristic discipline and disinterested factory workers. The Chinese group only views the trip as a way of them guiding because they are better than the American workers (Bradshaw, 2019).

Organizational Change

Which metaphor can be used to explain the organization in the film best?

In the film, the company can be best identified using the metaphor of the organization as a machine. Cameron and Green (2015), point out that the organizations which function as machines are considered to be rational businesses that are designed as constructed to accomplish a predetermined outcome. As a result, the company will have routine operations, efficient working, as well as a clearly defined structure and job roles (p. 122).

Throughout the film, all employees have specific roles they perform to manufacture and make windshield glasses. However, the company may face challenges such as resistance when it comes to initiating change due to its rigid structure. Sobczynski (201...

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Fuyao's U.S. Entry: Cultural Clashes in the Reopened GM Factory - Essay Sample. (2023, Aug 13). Retrieved from https://proessays.net/essays/fuyaos-us-entry-cultural-clashes-in-the-reopened-gm-factory-essay-sample

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