GRENOBLE ECOLE DE MANAGEMENT
Historical Case : Blitzkrieg
Technology and Strategy
Author : Gérard Guerrier
Date : 26/10/2007
Everyone knows the outcome of this authentic case… the disastrous Fall of France in May-June 1940! And, it may seem decidedly odd to make reference to an event that took place 65 years ago when considering how to improve thedevelopment process of high-end technology in 2010. But this case really deals with choosing the right strategy to match the technology available.
Or should that be choosing the right technology to match the strategy adopted?...
Please perform the tasks and answer the questions below:
1. Make a brief SWOT of France and/or Germany, in May 1940.
2. Draw a table of technology competitiveadvantages and disadvantages for France and/or Germany.
3. Recommend a strategy for France and/or Germany, taking the given technologies into account.
4. What kind of changes would you bring to these technologies in order to implement the strategy that you recommend?
5. What kind of changes would you bring to the strategies, taking into account the given technologies
5. What happened inreal life? Why? What role did Technology play?
6. Can we learn something from this case for Nokia? What?
Professor Guerrier prepared this case as the basis for class discussion. It is by no means intended to illustrate the effective or ineffective management of an administrative situation. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, used in a spreadsheet, ortransmitted in any form or by any means-electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise- without the permission of Grenoble Ecole de Management.
The general situation in May 1940
It is, of course, impossible to detail the implacable process which led to WWII and the situation of each country in this document alone. Please refer to your history books, or search on Google: WWII,“Pre-War”, etc. Only a few essential facts will be mentioned here.
In 1919, France was considered as the undisputed winner of WWI by all European nations. An intransigent Clemenceau imposed drastic conditions on Germany with the Versailles Treaty, and with good reason: France was devastated. The human cost was almost beyond belief: more than 1 400 000 men were killed: 17% of enlisted men, 30% ofthe males who were between 20 and 30 years of age! On the scale of the population, this was 35% more than the Austro-Germans. In Verdun, 700 000 men were killed on both sides. 80% of France’s industrial equipment was destroyed and it now carried a huge debt towards the USA: 11 billion dollars. Quite logically, from the French point of view, Germany had now to pay its due! France could rely on itshuge colonial empire: Indochina, Lebanon and most of North and Western Africa.
Germany was not fairing too well either. Although its territory and industries were practically intact, the Austro-Germans lost 1 700 000 people, besides Alsace, Lorraine and all their colonies. The German army was reduced to 100 000 men and the Air Force, submarines and tanks were prohibited. The Versailles treatypayments and conditions triggered spiral inflation, a wave of poverty which in turn brought chronic violence and political instability, culminating with the Nazis in 1933. Hitler did not waste time in imposing dictatorship: 70-hour working weeks, suppression of independent unions, etc. The Spanish civil war was soon to serve as a training ground and experimental field to his army. Austria andCzechoslovakia were then annexed. He now had a population of 80,6 million people from which he could raise an army of 12 million potential soldiers, including fanatical SS troops. In September 1939, Hitler secured a non-aggression pact with Stalin to avoid the risk of fighting on two fronts. However, without colonies or maritime access, Germany was short on natural resources: in May 1940, Germany...
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