Project #43991 - Management Principles







Due Date: 19 October 2014, 11.00pm










Hiroshi Okuda is not afraid to speak his mind or impose radical change in an organization. And because of these traits he is memorable at Toyota Motor Corporation where he is the chairman of the board. Prior to becoming chairman, Okuda served as Toyota’s president – the first non-family member in over 30 years to head the company. He also is unusual among other Japanese executives because, in Japan, executives are supposed to be unseen. Okuda justifies his outspoken and aggressive style as being necessary to change a company that had become lethargic (i.e. tired) and overly bureaucratic.




Okuda moved ahead at Toyota by taking jobs that other employees did not want. For example, in the early 1980s the company was trying to build a manufacturing facility in Taiwan, but the Taiwanese government’s demands for high local content, technology transfer and guaranteed exports convinced many at Toyota that the project should be scrapped. Okuda thought differently. He successfully lobbied for the facility in the company, and it is now very profitable for Toyota. As Okuda noted, ‘Everyone wanted to give up. But I restarted the project and led it to success.’ His drive and ability to overcome obstacles were central to his rise in the company’s hierarchy.




When Okuda ascended to the presidency of Toyota in early 1995 the company was losing market share in Japan to both Mitsubishi and Honda. Okuda attributed this problem to several factors. Toyota had been losing touch with Japanese customers for years. For example, when engineers redesigned the Corolla in 1991 they made it too big and too expensive for Japanese tastes. Then four years later, in an attempt to lower costs significantly, they stripped out so many features in the car that the Corolla looked too cheap. Competitors, on the other hand, had also done a much better job of identifying the boom in recreational vehicles – especially the sport-utility market. Toyota’s burdensome bureaucracy also bothered Okuda. A decision that took only five minutes to filter through at Suzuki Motor Corporation would take upwards of three weeks at Toyota.




In his first 18 months on the job Okuda implemented some drastic changes. In a country where lifetime employment is consistent with the culture, he replaced nearly one-third of Toyota’s highest-ranking executives. He revamped Toyota’s long-standing promotion system based on seniority, adding performance as a factor. Some outstanding performers moved up several managerial levels in one go – something unheard of in the history of the company.







Okuda also worked with the company’s vehicle designers to increase the speed at which the vehicle went from concept to market. What once took 27 months was shortened to 18 months. And now the company is making a custom car within five days of receiving an order.




Finally, Okuda is using the visibility of his job to address larger social issues facing all Japanese businesses. For instance, he accused Japan’s Finance Ministry of trying to destroy the car industry by driving up the yen’s value. And he has been an audible voice in the country, condemning the lax lending practices that forced Japanese banks to write off billions of dollars in bad loans and led, in part, to that country’s economic crisis in the late 1990s and early 2000.




Unfortunately, some of Okuda’s actions may have backfired. It has been suggested that the reason he was removed as president of the company in June 1999 was that he had overstepped the boundary at times with his blunt demands for change; and his refusal to bail out other members of the Toyota keiretsu may have offended the founding Toyota family. However, even though he was no longer president, his strategic leadership helped him to be appointed to the chairman’s job.




SOURCE: Robbins, Bergmann, Stagg and Coulter 2006, p600, Pearson










Answer all four (4) of the following questions.


1.     Explain the different leadership styles (not theories) defined in the academic literature and discuss what style of leadership is the most appropriate in different environmental situations and with different categorisations of employees.




2.     Based on your answer to Question 1 (above) how would you describe Hiroshi Okuda’s leadership style/s? Cite specific examples in the case study that support your choice.




3.     Explain the terms ‘transactional’ and ‘transformational’ leadership. What form did Hiroshi Okuda exhibit? Cite specific examples in the case study that support your choice.




4.     When a company is in crisis, do you believe that a radical change in leadership is required to turn the company around? Why? Why not?



Assignment 2 Requirements:


The following guidelines should assist you as you plan and undertake your assignment:


·      You are asked to carefully study the case as presented, and to research and read as much as you can from literature sources that relate to the various concepts evident in the case. Literature sources can include textbooks, academic papers and business journal papers. You should use these reference sources to support the discussion you present in your assignment paper, as you respond to the four questions


·      Identification:   Please include your name and ID number at the top of the first page of your assignment paper


·      Headers and footers are not necessary


·      You may compile a nice cover page of your own for your assignment if you would like to – but do not include it in the word count.  Please do not attach the university’s cover page


·      Word count:   2000 words, plus or minus 10%


·      Assignment weighting:   35%


·      References:   5 references minimum, 9 references maximum.  Use Harvard Referencing Guide UniSA protocol. 


·      Assignment structure:   Structure your assignment in the following manner:


o    Introduction – this is a small general introduction for the whole assignment.  Do not have an introduction for each question.  Approximately 100 words


o   Discussion – respond to each of the four questions in sequence.  There is no need to type out each question, just sub-head ‘Question 1’ etc.  Approximately 450 – 500 words per question.  Note: Each question will not take the same amount of words to adequately discuss that question, this is a guide for planning purposes only


o   Conclusion – this is a small general conclusion for the whole assignment.  Approximately 100 words


·      Assignment format and presentation:


o   Write your responses to the questions in essay style, not dot points


o   Calibri


o   12 point


o   1.5 line spacing


o   Use margins so as markers can write comments in your assignment


o   Word count - calculate your assignment word count and place after the conclusion and before your list of references. If you prefer not to include in-text referencing within the word count then please indicate this – it is permissible if you are concerned about total word count for the assignment








Lorraine Spiers


August 2014



Subject Business
Due By (Pacific Time) 10/19/2014 01:00 am
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