Cautious Optimism over Obama's GM Gambit

Wharton management professor John Paul MacDuffie, a longtime observer of the auto industry, says he’s “cautiously optimistic” that General Motors, pushed into bankruptcy protection by the Obama administration, can now be transformed into a leaner and more competitive player on the global stage. In a podcast with Knowledge at Wharton, he notes that there are many aspects of the plan that must go just right – or the entire scheme could collapse. Not the least of those is avoiding the influence of politics – the U.S. government is now the majority shareholder in the company – in GM's marketplace decisions. But MacDuffie, who also is a co-director of the International Motor Vehicle Program, says that skeptics who worry that the government might interfere with politically unpopular business decisions should contemplate the announcement to close the plant in Wilmington, Del., which is Vice President Biden’s hometown.