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Toyota continues to address numerous quality control problems in the wake of a massive recall of several million vehicles and halting sales of eight popular models in the United States. Initially, Toyota was quick to blame everyone and everything but the company. It was also slow to move on problems, recalling the Prius only after the Japanese government put pressure on them to do so. In a frank admission, Akio Toyoda, grandson of Toyota’s founder, says the company has not lived up to its standards. Shinichi Sasaki outlined a number of systemic failures, including failure to properly analyze and respond to customer complaints. Toyota’s own success may have been the biggest contributor, as the company was unable to grow effectively and maintain the “Toyota Way” of manufacturing.

QUESTIONS:

  1. As the article noted, Toyota’s problems stem from rapid growth of the company. Toyota’s structure did not allow it to respond effectively to engineering and quality problems. For example, sticking gas pedals were discovered and replaced in Europe, yet no one in the United States was alerted. What type of divisional structure does Toyota likely utilize? How might that contribute to their problems (like the one identified here)?
  2. Examine Figure 9.8 in your text. What organizational form does Toyota use? What organizational features (identified in the article) guide your choice?
  3. Imagine that Toyota wants your advice on how to fix the issues that led to this massive recall. What trends in organizational design would you recommend? Why?

SOURCE: B. Harden, “’Toyota Way’ Was Lost on Road to Phenomenal Worldwide Growth,” Washington Post (Retrievable online at http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/02/12/AR2010021205371.html?sub=AR)

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