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Cultural perspective on arrest of Carlos Ghosn
by Joseph Gatt
2018-12-21 08:26:04
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Culture is not every thing, but helps explain a lot of things. Here are some cultural interpretations on the arrest of Carlos Ghosn in Japan.

-In most Western countries, a company leader is expected to keep sales up and keep customers satisfied. Not in Japan. In Japan, in addition to good sales and a satisfied customer base, leaders are expected to have an exemplary attitude. They do not give interviews or talk to “normal” people, they only interact with the elite. They take lots of pictures with word leaders, but do not give public talks on the company.

-In most interviews, Ghosn clearly put Renault forward and Nissan and Mitsubishi in the backseat. Most people wouldn't even notice, but in Japan this was noticed.

carl01_400-A leader in Japan is supposed to control the group with fear. Shaming and blaming is common, as well as demoting people or removing people from their seats. Ghosn did not rule the Nissan and Mitsubishi groups with an iron fist.

-Ghosn thought that just because sales were doing well and that the brand image was doing well, he had access to other mergers and acquisitions in Japan. However, such diversifications by a single man are thought of as destroying the brand image in Japan. In Japan, one man controls one group.

-Ghosn was initially thought of as a man who would help Nissan sales and eventually leave. No one thought he would stay for so long. People in Japan were trying to make him leave, but he stayed.

-Japan is not a capitalist economy, but a nationalist economy. In Japan companies work for the nation and represent the nation. Japanese leaders behave like guests in foreign countries. The Japanese were shocked when Ghosn travelled around the world making himself at home in most countries.

-Ghosn separated the person, the company and the product. But in Japan the leader, the company and the product are one. Ghosn always talked about Mitsubishi and Nissan as if they were others, rather than if they were a part of him.

-The French are notorious for clinging to their jobs. French president Mitterand lasted 14 years as president, a record in Western European democracies for an elected leader. President Chirac lasted 12 years on the job, French A list singers and actors often enjoy a lifetime of uninterrupted success, French singer Henri Salvador was still singing in his late 90s, despite starting his career in his 20s. Ghosn wanted the job for life, again the Japanese only brought him in to fix a few problems then leave.

-Ghosn did not take cultural factors into consideration. He did not try to act Japanese, he has never spoken Japanese in public, and unlike other Japanese business leaders, he dealt with politicians with great distance.

-An insult from a foreigner is considered a serious offense in Japan. Non-Japanese people are often told not to criticize Japan in public or to behave in ways that would offend the Japanese. Ghosn tried to be an international soul, when if he wanted to dominate the Japanese market, he should have adopted a Japanese soul to dominate the market.

-Finally, Japan has double standards for Japanese leaders and foreign leaders. Japanese leaders can get away with just about anything, when foreign leaders are expected to set the example and behave in flawless ways.

-Finally, finally, bad behavior is a crime punishable by law in Japan. Not in the clearly defined way we would expect in the West. That is if you are not deferential to your seniors, don't act respectfully toward elders, talk too much, or have a relaxed attitude, you could end up being arrested and serving jail time in Japan.

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