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Media Insight: Cross-cultural differences in the case of Carlos Ghosn

Updated: Aug 22, 2019

As a specialist in understanding the difference culture makes to business communications, I have been asked to comment in various media outlets including the BBC World News and Forbes Japan on the cultural aspects of the recent Nissan scandal. It is certainly true that cultural differences between the different ways in which Ghosn and the Japanese do business, the main ones being the difference between individualism and the more collectivist nature of Japanese work behaviour, have exacerbated the situation and now there is a complete loss of trust. It seems like neither side of this alliance were able to align their cultural business behaviours and the relationship has now broken down completely with one side seeing it as a conspiracy and the other seeing Carlos Ghosn as a corrupt business man. I encounter these break-downs in trust very often when dealing with cross-cultural business and they are almost always caused by lack of understanding of how the other culture thinks and behaves and a lack of ability or willingness to adapt to a different way of doing things.

There is a danger that this case will reflect very badly on Japan, especially since Japan needs to develop more diverse talent and different ways of operating in business to truly globalise and revive their economy amongst demographic challenges such as an ageing and declining work-force. However, there is also a need for a re-think of individualistic business values, especially since the age of individualism is coming to an end.

Please see article in Forbes Japan (in Japanese only) and visit our Media page under Insights for the BBC world news video and more media appearances from our Managing Director Sarah Parsons.

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