The paper tells in detail about the Toyota motor corporations communication strategies and working of these strategies across the organization. The work has been divided under various headings. There is a introduction which give a little background about the Toyota motor corporation and then is the main body divided in four major parts.
The first part talks about the application of various modes of communication. It gives various examples about how different modes are used across the company at different levels for an effective communication. The company used new technology like instant messaging and still follows old methods like memos were it has to be a bit more directive. The second part is a comparison between the consistency and inconsistency of messaging across the company. This point has been explained through an example of inconsistent letters issued for recall of "darn air bag system". Thirdly the report discusses the extent of CSR and corporate sponsorships and how effective communicators they have been. The examples from various sources have been added and backed by relevant bibliography showing that the company's involvement in F1 racing has been a strong motivator for it large work force and has been one of the best communicator of public image. Finally the presences of TMC across the globe are being justified by its various cultural sensitivities and inter cultural management through expatriates. This is also backed up by various citations and is further put down in the bibliography.
At last there is a conclusion to the full report giving a favor to the Toyota Motor Corporation as an effective communicator and healthy corporate citizen understanding and completing its responsibilities with full devotion.
Toyota motor corporation (TMC) has attained the pride of been the world's third largest automobile maker in the year 2001. The range of vehicles manufactured varies from a small car to trucks across the globe. TMC has varies globally recognized brands such as Toyota, Lexus, Daihatsu and Hino which when combined gave a production of over 6 million units in the year 2002 (www.uk.sagepub.com, 2004). Being a large enterprise it has to have robust and concrete organizational structure and communication pattern. As Communication is a back bone for any organization to be successful. TMC owns 12 plants, 11 manufacturing subsidiaries and affiliates in Japan apart from these 45 manufacturing companies under the umbrella of the TMC are located in 26 different locations around the world (www.uk.sagepub.com, 2004).
As the organization size is humongous with well over 250,000 people working for it; spread across the globe and having the presence of the company in nearly 140 countries. The consolidated income from only its automotive business alone amounting to a nearly 90% of the total group income came to near 16 trillion Japanese Yen (www.uk.sagepub.com, 2004). Besides the company also hold interests in other industries such as telecommunications, prefabricated housing and leisure boats alongside its automotive business.
To understand its communication strategy it will be easier to discuss it in parts such as its application to organization, consistency of messages conveyed and also having a view of inconsistency of messages not been conveyed. It will be a good idea to have some light on the appropriateness and the effective communication effect of its corporate sponsorships and CSR activities. When discussing such large and globally present organization cultural sensitivities along with inter and cross cultural communication cannot be ignored.
Application of Communication theory
The scholars have given so many diverse and strong concepts on communication that no one theory is applicable to any of the large organization. From my study of the organization I came across the following concepts of communication theories are being used across the group. (Naga & Heng, 2010). There is no one fixed pattern across the group rather different modes and various concepts with a perfect blend of new and traditional modes of communication are used. At the same level in the same premises mostly email and instant messaging is used for official and fast track communication respectively. As the company works on a Just in Time (JIT) format and is always working towards Kaizan it believes instant messaging and emails are perfect for fast and reliable way of communicating. At certain levels mobile phones are used quite widely and employees are encouraged to have the best handsets so there is no loss of signals anywhere.
In inter office communication s company uses memos as traditional methods. One thing the company is very particular and takes a lot of pain and effort to create is its newsletter as this is one sort of communication from the director to the laborer which all goes through (Naga & Heng, 2010). Recently there has been a feedback form added to the newsletter were the
employees can communicate back direct to management about how they feel the company is going and what can be done to make it better, as if working on KAIZAN. The other modes used are face to face communication, notices, intranet updates, personal emails and normal post at times.
As seen and discusses the company practically uses all sorts of modes of communication available to communicate within the company. The size is so large for this organization that only one sort of communication pattern cannot be sufficient for this. One very important method which is also used within the organization very effectively is Grapevine communication.
Consistency and Inconsistency of messaging within the company
Communication is a two way process as best known. It includes a message to be sent to a receiver and for the receiver to receive and send a feed back in form of acknowledgement of receiving the message. This has a very positive effect on the any organizations working. It is important to have a feedback for any message conveyed as not having a feedback can cause problems or else we can say it will leave ambiguity that whether the message has gone across the board to the respective person or not (Argenti, 2007).
TMC as an organization is a strong follower of lean and six sigma practices (Toyota Motors). As being a lean organization they do not leave enough scope for a failure in messaging across any information which is meant to be known to the other end for doing their work on time and with full efficiency. For instance when the global recession hit the western world in 2008 the consistency of messaging across the entire TMC was so great that each manufacturing unit new what they have to get ready for and by when (NEWS, 2009). These messages were sent across using different modes of communication. This also includes the organized sizing down of the plants across the world. A live example is a 10% basic pay cut (NEWS, 2009) in UK in Toyota Corporation and reduction of nearly 500 employees in one of the manufacturing facilities.
Similarly not corresponding on time can cause hassles for any one. If inconsistency is kept in messaging or transferring correct information to required people or department for them to do their work efficiently. Very recently TMC has showed a very high level of inconsistency in its messaging. This time it was with customers to recall many of it faulty safety equipment fitted in the car such as malfunctioning of "darn cruise control" (Hoffman, 2010). This has caused a very bad effect on Toyota's image. TMC has issued three different versions of letters addressed to general TMC customers and these letters have no consistency that why this huge recall process is being called.
Appropriateness and effectiveness of communication of corporate sponsorships
It is very important for any organization to have a strong public image. This image is important not any for its market value but also for the trust of general public in its products and its employees feel stronger about the work they are doing if company is investing time, money and other resources towards society and environment (TOYOTA, 2010).
TMC has a global vision set for the year 2010 with respect to its stakeholders and investors (Toyota.co.jp, 2010). It's also has a vision in accordance to customers. The corporate image for Toyota is planning to go for an image of being a leader in safer motorizing through integrating IT in automobiles. It is also wising to achieve a 15% share in the early 2010's (www.uk.sagepub.com, 2004). Another very strong corporate communication exercise done by Toyota is the participation in motor racing. In 1990, because of its contributions to the motor sport in previous decades, Toyota gained permission to enter into in the Formula One racing circuit. This meant to build a whole new full-fledged racing car. In the year 1991 TMC announced its participation in the F1 and teamed up with Panasonic. The team was called Toyota Panasonic Racing Team. It was only on the 23rd day of March 2003 that Toyota unveiled its first ever racing car (TOYOTA, 2010).
Although the team's performance at F1 events has been up and down since its inception but the F1 world Championship participation is seen or it can be said that is considered to be the most successful event in TMC'c corporate communication tool till date (www.uk.sagepub.com, 2004). Both internally and externally the world championship program had a very strong and lasting impact as a communication tool for moral of the employees (Times News, 2003)
Toyota's own communications to its employees suggests the same:
It (the F1 project) helped to motivate Toyota's 260,000 strong workforces around the world. All the employees take great pride in the Toyota TF103, the racing car that competes in the F1 Grand Prix, which was built using the same technological basis as the production cars they build and sell (Toyota Motors).
The company holds a number of CSR programs under its umbrella and is very active in social welfare. It has earned name and confidence is being able to communicate its base line thinking of making world a better place by being responsible corporate citizen irrespective of in which country they are present. Some of TMC's environmental activities date back to early 1990's (TOYOTA, 2010). The company adopted a set of guiding principles during those years and made the company urge to 'respect the culture and customs of every nation and contribute to economic and social development through corporate activities in local communities' (Toyota Motors).
In the year 1998, TMC formed an environmental affairs division this division was directly under the supervision and control of the President of the TMC. The company received the US Environmental Protection Agency's Global Climate Protection Award 1998 for developing the world's first passenger vehicle to be produces in mass production. This unit was planned to have and engine which will be powered by a not petrol or diesel but was instead powered by a hybrid power and was a train system. Since 1998, Toyota has been disclosing information on its environment-related activities through an Environmental Report (Toyota.co.jp, 2010). "On June 25, 1999 Toyota became the first automaker to be awarded the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) Global 500 award for the leadership it demonstrated 'in the development of environmental technologies and measures'" (www.uk.sagepub.com, 2004).DSJI analysts maintained that:
While VW [Volkswagen] scored significantly higher in the social dimension (that is, standards for suppliers, human right issues in the value chain) than Toyota, Toyota seems to execute more systematically its strategies regarding environmental issues, including recycling, efficiency and technology .
Cultural sensitivities along with inter and cross cultural communication
The company operates in around 140 countries. One big challenges all the large MNC's face is the cultural barriers. Toyota has managed these cultural sensitivities very closely and tightly. When studied and observed around the different operations around the world I came to know of a very certain pattern of the working culture and how these cultural sensitivities are managed. TMC manages these under two different heads Product and Employees.
The product ranges is quite different all across the globe for Toyota and is very carefully designed and launched after a very strong marketing analysis. For instance the models available in America are not available in UK or any other part of the world. American society like and appreciates more SUV's and Trucks than sedans. In the UK it is more of a market of Sedans and Luxury cars. Moving to Southeast Asia a mix of mall cars and sedans is appreciated. This shows that the company has really taken into consideration the societal and cultural acceptance with its products.
The company has got a much defined organizational structure. Any country they operate in, a good opportunity is given to the local workforce to come and work. This benefits them to have a local presence and better control in managing through people speaking a common language. At
Senior management there is a perfect blend of Japanese nationals and deserving international counterparts this is done to maintain harmony (Phallapa Petison, 2006) between the organizations throughout the world.
Over all it has been a very clear image for TMC to be an effective communication based organization. It is very much evident from here that it is an organization of ethics and high morals working towards a better world and clean and green environment. The company really cares about its employees does its corporate duties as a responsible citizen and has contributed to each country it has entered in. Overall Toyota can be considered as a role model for automobile industry as a healthy corporate citizen.
Also despite a few problems here and there the company is looking forward for a better and safer motorizing world and expects to be a major contributor in the world motorizing industry.
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