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“COLLISION COURSE – Carlos Ghosn and the Culture Wars That Upended an Auto Empire” By Hans Greimel and William Sposato, a HBR Book Essentials

Corporate development happens rarely without conflicts. Nissan’s ascension under Carlos Ghosn goes even beyond that: Ghosn led the Renault-Nissan alliance from a rapid rise to a dramatic fall. “Collision Course” is therefore a tale of money, business and greed – and about the spectacular fall from grace of one of the most different businessmen that ever was out there.

As a veteran automotive reporter, Hans Greimel had a decades-long chance to see how Renault and Nissan evolved during time. He worked in and with Japan for a 15 years, making him almost not only an knowledgeable car connoisseur, but also close to the local rumor mills.  William Sposato wrote almost two decades about the Japanese economy (for Japan Inc.).

“Collision Course” goes beyond the thriller narrative of the rise and fall of Carlos Ghosn. The authors take a much broader view – including the main actors and stakeholders within the story. For example, some important players are the Japanese government representatives, who can barely stand seeing their national car brands being integrated away in a foreign conglomerate.

Despite these stakeholders, almost all interviewed persons converged to an interesting agreement: Carlos Ghosn did not only leave an irreversible legacy on the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance (which by the way was for a long time the largest car producer in the world). He has also changed forever the car industry in Japan. To quote the authors – “He is arguably one of the most influential foreigners ever to set foot in this country.” And this is the true topic of “Collision Course”.

Beyond everything, Ghosn and his team pioneered and perfected a cross-cultural, global cooperation between quite different producing companies. No one dared to even attempt this before at such a scale and to such extent. Ghosn touched everything – from production methods to pricing, from quality control to distribution agreements. And above all, he forced cooperation among different teams, which before could rarely agree on elementary topics. His combination of brute force and sheer persuasion made him not only feared inside the company, but also respected. Ghosn got results – his strategies worked constantly, bringing the alliance from a regional player position to a global powerhouse of car platforms.

Make no mistake, this book is centered on Ghosn and on his story. He is the main character – and “Collision Course” narrates it (mostly) from his perspective. And yet, it also touches also the theme of a judicial system (the Japanese one) who somehow failed to treat 100% Ok-ish a well-known executive. And in the same vein, the way Japan and its people dealt with Ghosn.

All in all, a fascinating and fast-paced book on one of the most impressive executives the auto industry has ever seen. Enjoy!


Preface ix 1. Ghosn Shock 1 2. Rock Star CEO 19 3. Japan Is Different 31 4. The Global Standard 45 5. Memories Are Short 61 6. Pressure Cooker 73 7. Collision Course 91 8. The French Are Different 107 9. The Case Is Built 121 10. Makings of a Conspiracy 137 11. Justice Japan Style 157 12. Ghosn Fights Back 171 13. Alliance Upheaval 185 14. Foreign Entanglements 203 15. We See Issues 217 16. Scandalous Affairs 237 17. Shattered Legacy 247 18. Jail Japan Style 263 19. Great Escape 275 20. The Forgotten Man 293 21. Course Correction 309


Publishing Date: 22.06.2021

Title: COLLISION COURSE Carlos Ghosn and the Culture Wars That Upended an Auto Empire

Authors: Hans Greimel and William Sposato


Publishing House: Harvard Business Review Press

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