In March, 1992 a white Opel Astra rolled off of the assembly line at the new plant of GM Hungary in Szentgotthard (sent-goat-hard), near the Austrian border.' The significance of the event was signaled by the presence of Prime Minister Jozsef Antall. What made this such an important accomplishment? The many answers to that question outline fundamental developments in the auto industry and in the economies of eastern Europe. Among them: Hungary has never developed a native automobile business; 2 investment by the worlds largest auto producer represents a great achievement by Hungarian government and business leaders; the plant itself embodies significant changes in GM's approach to making cars, including teamwork concepts not easily implemented in a seedbed of nearly a half-century of communism; completion of the plant and initiation of production takes place against one of the most complex socio-economic backdrops of the century.
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