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Archive for April 3rd, 2009

It was recently announced that General Motors has effectively fired its coach.  In sports, coaches are regularly fired, though the timing of the firing tends to depend on the level of competition.  In college sports, most coaches are fired at the end of an unsuccessful season or, more typically, the end of a string of unsuccessful seasons (notable exceptions are coaches who resign amid scandal before the season concludes).  This timing allows the administration to look like it is taking action while also appearing to have given the failed coach every opportunity to improve.  More importantly, this timing allows the new coach to start fresh with a full offseason to improve the team.

At the professional level, it is much more common for coaches to be fired during the season.  When this happens, media reports typically explain that the coach had “lost” the players, leading to mediocre performance.  A coaching change, then, is often expected to shake up the lethargic millionaires who fill a team’s roster, although this tactic is unlikely to result in a markedly improved record at the end of the season.  In both college and professional sports, the coach who is fired was sometimes hailed as a team’s savior only a few years earlier.

So it is with General Motors.  Rick Wagoner, the man who rose to the top and was supposed to turn the company around has been forced out.  The interesting twist is that his resignation comes not at the request of stockholders or the board of directors, but from the Obama administration.  In professional sports, the owners typically have the final say in hirings and firings, so I suppose that GM’s financial situation is such that it is not a stretch to give the Obama administration this control.  Nevertheless, with only sixty days left in the season it appears unlikely that Wagoner’s replacement, Fritz Henderson, will be able to turn things around, no matter how much some fans like the move.

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