Fiat Auto: The Italian Giant in Trouble|Business Strategy|Case Study|Case Studies

Fiat Auto: The Italian Giant in Trouble

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Case Details:

Case Code : BSTR050
Case Length : 15 Pages
Period : 1990 - 2003
Organization : Fiat Auto
Pub Date : 2003
Teaching Note :Not Available
Countries : Italy
Industry : Automobiles & Automotive

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This case study was compiled from published sources, and is intended to be used as a basis for class discussion. It is not intended to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of a management situation. Nor is it a primary information source.

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Background Note

Fabbrica Italiana Automobili Torino (FIAT), credited as one of the founders of the European automobile industry, was established in 1899 in Turin, Italy, by a group of individual investors under the leadership of Giovanni Agnelli.

Taking advantage of the easily available workforce and favorable social environment of Turin, Giovanni Agnelli made Turin a center for innovations, especially in the field of automobile manufacturing. Fiat's automobiles achieved instant popularity, not only in Italy, but also internationally. From the very beginning, Fiat followed a two-pronged growth strategy: penetration into foreign markets and focus on innovation. The focus on innovation resulted in the group's diversification into many different businesses over the decades. Giovanni Agnelli strengthened the production system of the group's automobile division and set up Lingotto, the biggest automotive complex in Europe. The project's objective was to make automobiles affordable to the common man.

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As a result, Fiat was able to offer many vehicles at affordable prices between the 1930s and 1950s through FA. The company was also instrumental in triggering motor vehicle use by the general public in Italy. Fiat enjoyed a near monopoly status in the market for a long period and came to be seen as a 'national icon' that played a major part in making Italy the world's fifth largest economy.

After the death of Giovanni Agnelli in 1945, Vittorio Valletta (Valletta) his close associate and a key executive in Fiat, became the chairman. Under his leadership, Fiat entered an era of prosperity, which can largely be attributed to the growth of the mass car market in Italy during the 1950s. By the mid-1960s, Fiat was manufacturing over one million vehicles per annum and its annual sales amounted to over $1.5 billion. In 1966, Gianni Agnelli, the grandson of Giovanni Agnelli and the head of the Agnelli family, took over as the chairman. A firm believer in the 'American style of management', he fired many old managers and introduced assembly-line production in Fiat. Under his leadership, Fiat gave a lot of importance to strengthening operations outside Italy through mergers and alliances...

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