I grew up in southeast Michigan. From the first days I can remember, in the early 70s, I remember hearing "these are tough times for the Big 3". To the extent, over the next four decades, that things weren't tough, it was short-lived and never made up for the massive losses.
GM gobbled up all those brands and became a lumbering, clumsy, giant mess. They never leveraged the brands, instead reducing most of them to reselling slightly re-clad versions of the same cars.
For nearly a decade out of college I worked for a Fortune 100 company. Any "economies of scale" that may have existed (and there were few...our highest margin work was for other parts of the company, not external customers) were FAR outweighed by the massive internal friction that existed in the form of politics and red tape. 90% of my energy was spent navigating the morass of those two things to get approval to do the right thing, and 10% was spent on actual improvements (I was an engineer). Like GM, for those ten years the company rarely, if ever, made a profit. But boy did the A-level execs get paid a lot, even during a multi-year salary freeze.
Two perfect examples are the Kappa and the Fiero. Bob Lutz and Hulki Aldikacti (respectively) spent huge amounts of energy, time, and political capital just to get the cars approved. Lutz was more successful than Hulki in getting the car to showrooms in the form he envisioned, but he still make sacrifices to hit arbitrary numbers that, in the long run, cost GM repeat sales; far more money that they would have spent to do more things right on the Kappa.
Meanwhile, this much smaller, far nimbler, much less fat company called Tesla has come along and stood the auto industry on its head. They are certainly not perfect, but it does show, I think, what can get done when employee energy is more focused on getting things done rather than getting permission to do things, and the fat is cut out of the system.
I agree with you 100%!!! I work for a Billion Dollar a year government agency, and the bureaucracy that exists is stifling! My job has been to increase internal communications/employee engagement/collaboration, but it's friggen impossible in some cases to do anything!
I literally had to CREATE a completely new entity (nonprofit 501(c)4) to be able to accomplish something as small as creating an internal employee website!
People blame unions in this country for troubles etc.. They couldn't be more wrong. What hurts government and big companies for that matter is middle and upper management. No-one focuses on a rarely heard term (LEADERSHIP) and instead only worry about micromanaging everything to death! Hell, even colleges focus on only management and not real leadership that actually motivates employees to innovate, and gives employees ownership of their work. Too many people only caring about how they feel or how they themselves are doing, and not about how the company is doing and what's best for everyone (company, and customers).
It's sad really....