BMW Group Plant Oxford's 'The New Oxford Way' (NOW) Program: From Culture Clash to Performance Culture

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This case study was compiled from published sources, and is intended to be used as a basis for class discussion. It is not intended to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of a management situation. Nor is it a primary information source.

Case Details:


Case Code : OPER074 For delivery in electronic format: Rs. 300;
For delivery through courier (within India): Rs. 300 + Rs. 25 for Shipping & Handling Charges


Production Strategy/ Team Working/ Employee Empowerment

Case Length : 15 Pages
Period : 2000-2008
Organization : BMW AG
Pub Date : 2009
Teaching Note : Not Available
Countries : UK
Industry : Auto and Ancillaries


In 2000, the Germany-based BMW Group (BMW) sold off The Rover Group (Rover Group) that it had acquired in 1994, but it retained its iconic MINI brand. As part of the changes initiated, BMW shifted production from Longbridge to Cowley (in Oxford), the plant which had rolled out the original Mini. BMW wanted to come out with a new MINI. However, the management at the new plant faced challenges in upgrading the site and processes and in preparing for the launch of the new vehicle. It also had to face the huge challenge of integrating the erstwhile Rover and BMW cultures, which differed vastly from each other. Besides, there was a strong feeling of 'us' and 'them' among the employees.

The massive layoffs that accompanied the production shift from Longbridge to Cowley complicated matters further. This prompted BMW to launch 'The New Oxford Way' (NOW) program which was aimed at integrating the erstwhile Rover and BMW cultures, improving productivity, and decreasing costs by empowering the workers.

As part of the initiative, huge investments were made to refurbish the Oxford plant as it prepared to come out with a new generation MINI. A key component of the NOW was the Working in Groups (WINGS) project that was aimed at increasing the involvement of the workers by empowering them. The initiative soon started showing results, leading to better employee morale, reduced costs, and increased productivity.

In 2002, the production target (100,000 units) was exceeded by 60 percent. BMW was also credited with handling its production strategy well in keeping with the high demand for the MINIs in the subsequent years. In 2004, the Oxford plant rolled out the 500,000th MINI in August 2004, two years ahead of schedule, and in the following year, production for the year crossed the 200,000 mark. The company was credited with transforming the culture of the Oxford plant from a culture marked by confrontation and negativism to that of a performance culture.


Study the production strategy adopted by the BMW Group pertaining to MINI.

Understand the issues and challenges in job design and team working.

Understand issues and challenges in employee empowerment.

Understand how the culture of the BMW Group Oxford Plant was changed from that of confrontation and negativism to a performance culture.

Analyze 'The New Oxford Way' (NOW) program and the 'Working in Groups' initiative.


  Page No.
Introduction 1
Background Note 2
The Challenge 4
The New Oxford Way (NOW) 5
Results 8
Exhibits 12


The New Oxford, Working in Groups (WINGS) project, Performance Culture, change program, Teamworking, continuous learning, self-steered teams, communication, empowerment, production strategy, productivity, post merger integration problems, Industrial relations, Target management process, training, reward management, team-building, group dynamics, Plant Oxford, automotive industry, MINI

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