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Handbook of Organizational Learning and Knowledge Management, Second Edition by MARJORIE A. LYLES, MARK EASTERBY-SMITH

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FIAT Auto: Case Example of a Company’s Learning Portfolio

The following case was produced from field research I conducted over the course of two trips to Italy. Data were collected through structured and unstructured interviews, participant observation, and content analysis of internal documents. Additional background on this case was previously reported elsewhere (Nevis et al., 1995; DiBella et al., 1996; DiBella and Nevis, 1998.) The case shows how learning takes place through multiple activities supported at FIAT Auto.

FIAT Auto’s learning portfolio

FIAT Auto designs, manufactures, and markets automobiles worldwide under a variety of trademarks including Fiat, Lancia, and Alfa Romeo. Staffed by approximately 3000 managers and professionals, Direzione Technica (DT) is FIAT Auto’s engineering division responsible for the design of new automobiles. DT is organized into functional departments which each specialize in a particular aspect of car design, such as body style or engines.

FIAT Auto once produced vehicles under the Fiat trademark only. Subsequently, it acquired Lancia and then Alfa Romeo. Each trademark was produced in separate companies, which gave FIAT Auto a product focused organization structure. In 1991, the three car companies were reorganized as FIAT Auto into a functionally based structure with a heavy emphasis on project management. Trademark models are designed by new product development teams that reside in staff groups (piattaforma) responsible for the new models ...

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