As General Motors replaces Michael Burns as president of GM Europe, GM ought to consider a new top management structure in Europe.
In 1986, GM tried to reduce Opel's influence on the rest of European operations. It created GM Europe and put its headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland, instead of Opel's home in Russelsheim, Germany.
GM Europe's president is responsible for all business units in the region. But the chairman of Opel runs GM's vast manufacturing complex in Europe and also is responsible for sales in Germany.
The two positions have different constituencies, which has led to infighting and confusion - even in the good years. That suggests that GM Europe also needs a COO, who may or may not be the head of Opel.