Fiat’s Sergio Marchionne as Obama’s Ghostwriter?

How are the fate of companies and entire countries' economies intertwined?

July 14, 2010

How are the fate of companies and entire countries' economies intertwined?

We are in a very delicate situation that requires us to make choices that will shape our future: a future that concerns all of us as individuals and workers, that concerns our nation and its role on the world scene.

We only have to look at the low level of inward investment in Italy, at the number of businesses that have closed their doors in recent years and at the many others that have abandoned the country to understand the gravity of the situation.

Let’s not hide behind the excuse of the crisis.

The crisis has made the structural weakness of the industrial sector in Italy more evident — and, for many individuals and families, unfortunately, more dramatic.

The worst thing about an industrial system, when it is not capable of competing, is that in the end it is the workers who pay the consequences directly and through no fault of their own.

We need to close the competitive gap that separates us from other countries and to raise Fiat’s efficiency to a level that is essential to ensuring Italy a strong automotive industry and all of our workers a more secure future.

There is no alternative. Fiat is a multinational that operates in markets around the world.

If we want to grow in Italy as well, to strengthen our industrial base and create new job opportunities, we have to accept the challenge and compete with the rest of the world.

We didn’t choose the rules of international competition and neither are we able to change them — even though we may not like them. The only thing we can choose is whether we will be in or out of the game.

We only need to be able to guarantee that our plants achieve a normal level of competitiveness, that we can create normal operating conditions to increase plant utilization — and have the certainty that we can respond to changes in market demand with normal speed.

There is nothing extraordinary in wanting to upgrade operating systems, to align them with international norms.

If there is anything exceptional, it is a company choosing to undertake this challenge in Italy when it means giving up guaranteed advantages offered by other countries.

I know that the majority of you understand and appreciate the commitment we have chosen to undertake.

I also believe this is no time for conflict, and I certainly don’t want to fuel any.

We have no intention of infringing on any of your rights. We are not violating any laws much less, as I have even heard, the Italian constitution.

It’s not even believable to me that a rebuttal to such a statement should be necessary. It is one of the most absurd assertions that can be made.

If anything, what we are doing is making every effort possible to protect the very concept of labor upon which the Republic of Italy was founded.

The other thing that has left me incredulous is the presumed conflict between company and workers, between bosses and workers that I have heard talked about so much in recent months.

Anyone who has ever been in the position of managing an organization knows very well that if an organization’s strength comes from anywhere at all, it is from the individuals in it.

You have demonstrated this in the clearest way through the work you have done in recent years to transform Fiat from a group on the brink of failure in 2004 to one that has earned respect and admiration in the international marketplace.

When, as now, we are talking about building a future together, an internal mindset of conflict cannot exist.

This is a challenge between us and the rest of the world. It is a challenge that we either win together — or lose together.

What is needed today is an enormous collective effort, a form of social pact where the commitments, responsibilities and sacrifices are shared to achieve an objective that goes beyond our limited personal vision.

Now is the time to put individual interests aside and consider the common good, the kind of nation that we want to leave to future generations.

It is the time to rediscover a social cohesion that will breed individuals with courage and the will to achieve.

I believe that you want, as I do, a different and better future for our children and our grandchildren.

Today, we have one of those once-in-a-lifetime occasions that gives us the opportunity to achieve that vision.

Let’s not waste it.

Editor’s Note: This Globalist Document is an abbreviated version of Sergio Marchionne’s July 2010 open letter to all employees in Italy.

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Takeaways

What is needed today is an enormous collective effort, a form of social pact where the commitments, responsibilities and sacrifices are shared to achieve an objective that goes beyond our limited version.

This is a challenge between us and the rest of the world. It is a challenge that we either win together — or lose together.

It is the time to rediscover a social cohesion that will breed individuals with courage and the will to achieve.

In the end, it is the workers who pay the consequences directly and through no fault of their own.