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Six months after stepping aside as General Motors Co.

’s fourth CEO in five years and leaving his successor with a searing recall crisis, Dan Akerson tells The Detroit News “we all ... didn’t fully realize how deeply some of the problems ran.”

That’s not the half of it, as his hand-picked replacement, Mary Barra, is learning.

The most insidious aspects of GM's corporate culture — blame-shifting, lack of accountability, a callous disregard for customers — survived decades of declining market share, financial losses and an epic bankruptcy. Those serial embarrassments mostly failed to penetrate, much less change, critical corners of the automaker's engineering and legal operations.

Whether the recall mess proves any different will depend on how dramatically GM’s Barra-led leadership unambiguously departs from the go-along, get-along management culture that persisted for way too long there, enabling the ignition-switch fiasco blamed for at least 13 deaths and dozens of accidents.

There are the “demotions” that move personnel problems around instead of remove them; the unofficial “management union,” as Akerson referred to it in an interview last December, that memorializes excuses and protects underperformers; the nice-guy legacies of former CEOs Jack Smith and Rick Wagoner, who each presided nobly over decline.




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Former CEO Dan Ackerson Blames Management And Corporate Culture For GM Decline

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