Deception and denial are of little help for employers caught in business crisis situations, according to former American Motors Chairman and CEO Gerald C. Meyers.
Now a professor of crisis management at the University of Michigan Business School, Dr. Meyers specifically singles out DaimlerChrysler Chairman Juergen E. Schrempp and senior executives of Bridgestone/Firestone for engaging in "D-word" reactions that could hurt their employee or customer relations.
"Schrempp's admission that he never intended the Daimler-Benz buyout of Chrysler to be a `merger of equals' made the 130,000 Chrysler employees feel like a bunch of dupes," says Dr. Meyers.
He says Ford Motor Co. handled the tire shredding/rollover crisis much better than Firestone.
"Ford early on acknowledged tire blowout-caused rollover accidents of its Explorer SUVs," he says. "But Firestone went into full denial mode. To this day, they say they can't find a cause for tread separations and continue to point a finger at an `Explorer problem' when no rollovers occurred with other brands of tires."
Dr. Meyers rose to the top position at AMC in the late 1970s. He left just as Renault acquired a controlling interest in the automaker, which was sold to Chrysler in 1987.
Dr. Meyers' subsequently taught business crisis management at his alma mater, Carnegie Mellon, and joined the University of Michigan in 1985.
His newly-published book, "Dealers, Healers, Brutes & Saviors" chronicles the business experiences of 24 past and present industry CEOs.
Dr. Meyers, 70, co-authored the book with his daughter, Susan Meyers, a freelance writer based in Brookline, MA. He maintains his own business crisis management firm in Ann Arbor, MI.