Battenberg, J. T. III 1944–

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J. T. Battenberg III

Chairman, CEO, and president, Delphi Corporation

Nationality: American.

Born: 1944.

Education: Kettering University, BS, 1966; Columbia University, MBA, 1969.

Career: General Motors, 19611986, assembly line, plant superintendent, comptroller, production manager, plant manager, managing director of the General Motors Continental Division in Belgium, general manager of overseas truck operations in England; 19861992, vice president of Buick-Oldsmobile-Cadillac Group's luxury car division; 19921995, vice president of Automotive Components Group Worldwide; 19951998, executive vice president; Delphi Corporation, 19951998, president; 1998, chairman, CEO, and president.

Address: Delphi Corporation, 5725 Delphi Drive, Troy, Michigan 48098;

J. T. Battenberg III rose through the ranks of General Motors to become president of Delphi, a world-leading diversified automotive supply company, when it was first organized as a separate division of GM in 1995. Battenberg gained the additional title of chairman of the board when Delphi reorganized as an independent corporation in May 1999. Under Battenberg's leadership, Delphi gained recognition when it ranked 57th in the Fortune 500 in 2000, continuing the aggressive global expansion that started when the company was still a division of GM.


Battenberg is a classic example of an insider who rose through the ranks to reach the top of a company. He started working on the assembly line at General Motors in 1961. He received a bachelor's degree in 1966 from the General Motors Institute, now known as Kettering University; three years later he earned an MBA from Columbia University and then underwent

management training at Harvard University. Later, Battenberg was given the opportunity to progress through the ranks of GM in both the United States and Europe. In Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap and Others Don't, Jim Collins, author of several well-known studies of corporate management, notes that 10 of 11 CEOs coming from inside companies are "good to great"; Battenberg fell into this category.

In a keynote presentation to the Automotive News World Congress in January 2003, Battenberg reflected on the auto industry over the period of his working experience. He noted that one of the passions that guided his management style was his interest in data, including demographics. He attributed this interest to his years spent looking for new customers as well as focusing on the character of the workforce. He further commented that his job had been made easier by an "oversupply of educated, skilled, internet-savvy and highly motivated people" to fill jobs. However, he said, there had been a serious decline in the United States in the number of 35- to 50-year-old workers, the group Battenberg described as having the highest productivity.


As chairman, CEO, and president, Battenberg was the ultimate authority at Delphi and used a lean, multifunctional matrix approach to management. The board comprised Battenberg and 20 senior executives representing the three product sectors and the company's world and regional headquarters staff. Each product sector was managed by its own strategy board, which was responsible for the profitability of that sector's various products and businesses. The differences in the nature of the products within a sector made it necessary to manage the three sectors separately.

Matrix management is one strategy used by top industry leaders in response to developments such as globalization, the intensification of competition, and the complexities of relationships with customers, employees, and governments that these changes have created. Matrix management provides a parallel reporting structure as a mechanism to handle diverse and sometimes conflicting needs of functional-product and geographic-management groups. It is a multidimensional organization scheme that can, under the right leadership, respond well to external complexity. Battenberg was able to make this scheme work at Delphi.

The company reported organizational refinements that included the consolidation of product lines and realignments made to sharpen focus. For cost savings, support staffs were joined across headquarters, divisions, and regions. While additionally consolidating product lines in single divisions, Delphi announced in November 2003 that it had acquired a German company so as to expand its product line primarily for the European automotive original-equipment market. Battenberg also strengthened the company's competitive position in China through continued globalization.


When Battenberg started working on the assembly line in 1961, the government was filing antitrust lawsuits within the auto industry. However, antitrust is no longer an issue in the auto industry, owing to the proliferation of foreign competition. Working under the CEO Jack Smith Jr. in the 1990s, Battenberg adopted a doctrine of global focus for broader markets and, as with most manufacturing industries under profit pressure, outsourcing for cheaper labor.

While the automotive systems division was led by Battenberg under GM, operations were set up in China. After investing more than $400 million in China over a decade, Delphi realized $700 million in sales in 2002. Delphi was the largest auto parts manufacturer in China by the end of 2003. Most of the production manufactured in China stayed there, because demand was so great within the country. Delphi also outsourced manufacturing to Eastern Europe to lower manufacturing costs on products for Western European markets.

See also entry on Delphi Corporation in International Directory of Company Histories.

sources for further information

Bartlett, C. A., and Sumantra Ghoshal, "Matrix Management: Not a Structure, a Frame of Mind," Harvard Business Review, JulyAugust 1990.

Battenberg III, J. T., "Keynote Dinner Remarks," Automotive News World Congress, January 13, 2003,

Collins, Jim, Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap and Others Don't, New York: HarperCollins, 2001.

Muller, Joann, et al., "Autos: A New Industry," BusinessWeek Online, July 15, 2002,

Tichy, Noel M., The Leadership Engine: How Winning Companies Build Leaders at Every Level, New York: HarperBusiness, 1997.

M. C. Nagel