La brecha de comunicación de Japan Inc.

TOKIO – Más allá de lo que le suceda a Toyota tras el retiro de circulación obligado de millones de sus vehículos, su historia seguirá siendo legendaria. El ascenso de Toyota desde sus orígenes humildes como el "vástago" de una empresa familiar de máquinas textiles en una zona remota del centro de Japón hasta convertirse en el fabricante de automóviles dominante a nivel mundial y en sinónimo de calidad es asombroso. Junto con una pequeña cantidad de otros íconos corporativos japoneses -por ejemplo, Sony, Honda y Canon-, Toyota fue la estrella brillante del milagro económico y del desafío global de Japón.

Todavía está por verse si los problemas actuales de Toyota son temporarios o irreversibles. A pesar de su humillación actual, conserva enormes ventajas -y, en todo caso, la competencia no es mucho mejor-. Pero, para asegurar su posición global, Toyota -y la mayoría de las corporaciones multinacionales japonesas- necesita una transformación cultural.

Como quedó claramente ilustrado en las confusas demoras de su presidente y máximo responsable ejecutivo (y nieto del fundador), Akio Toyoda, para responder a los pedidos de comparecencia ante el Congreso estadounidense, Toyota tiene un serio problema de comunicación global. Ese problema es el reflejo de una debilidad japonesa mayor en cuanto a lenguas extranjeras, especialmente inglés. Pero como actor global dominante y por ser la compañía automovilística más grande del mundo, esa excusa no alcanza.

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