B.S. Law, University of Tokyo (1987) SUBMITTED TO THE MIT SLOAN SCHOOL OF MANAGEMENT IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION at the MASSACHUSETTS INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY June 2005 ©2005 Koji Nakae. All rights reserved. The author hereby grants to MIT permission to reproduce and to distribute publicly paper and electronic copies of this thesis document in whole or in part.
Signature of Author: MIT Sloan School of Management May 6, 2005 Certified by: John Van Maanen Erwin H. Schell Professor of Organization Studies Thesis Supervisor Accepted by: Stephen J. Sacca Director, Sloan Fellows Program in Innovation and Global Leadership
CULTURAL CHANGE: A COMPARATIVE STUDY OF THE CHANGE EFFORTS OF DOUGLAS MACARTHUR AND CARLOS GHOSN IN JAPAN by
Submitted to the Sloan School of Management on May 6, 2005 In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Business Administration
When an organization adapts to a changing environment and struggles through an organizational crisis, its organizational culture is sometimes challenged. At such a time, a leader who can change current culture and embed a new culture is needed for the organization to survive. Dealing with cultural changes is one of the most important roles of a leader. In this thesis, I examine the leadership of two leaders—General Douglas MacArthur and Nissan’s CEO Carlos Ghosn—who came to Japan from the outside during organizational crises and conducted organizational reforms and cultural changes at two different levels—the country Japan and the company Nissan. Using Edgar H. Schein’s (1992) frameworks, culture-embedding mechanisms and basic assumptions, I examine what has, and has not, been changed by the two leaders in terms of organizational culture. I will show how most of Nissan’s problems came from basic assumptions of postwar Japan, and how the country has not been changed while the company has been successfully changed. My research was conducted mainly through historical studies and articles written by both American and Japanese writers in order to analyze various events from differing objective perspectives.
John Van Maanen Erwin H. Schell Professor of Organization Studies 3
The long and hard days of writing this thesis were in a sense a quest for “What does being Japanese mean to me?” and “What does my experience in the MIT Sloan Fellows Program mean to me?” It was, for me, a trial to establish my identity in a cross-cultural environment and to find a new way to deal with day-to-day managerial issues in a Japanese company after finishing this program. I would like this thesis to be read by those who are dealing with cross-cultural issues and who, as change agents, are trying to change corporate culture. First of all, I would like to thank my thesis advisor Professor John Van Maanen, my best friend Eric Jones, Professor Lotte Bailyn, and my wife Junko. Without their help, I could not finish this thesis. In John’s class of the fall semester, I was really surprised and impressed by his teaching style and its content. It was not about common topics in a business school, such as strategic or financial issues, but about those of culture and politics. I had not thought such cultural and political themes were taught in a business school. It was through John’s classes that I came up with this thesis idea. As a thesis advisor, John gave me solid support through his passionate encouragement and insightful academic instructions. Eric and I have been in the same study group and in the same carpool team. We have shared a large portion of the academic and social experience in the MIT Sloan Fellows Program. Our discussion in a daily-commuting-car always ranged over national and cross-cultural issues,...