MGT303 Corporate Policy & Strategy
The Kobe Steel scandal started in October 2017 when the company revealed that it had falsified data about the quality of its aluminium, steel and copper products. These had been used by hundreds of major companies including Toyota, Honda, Subaru and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, leading to concerns over product safety. The Central Japan Railway Company, for example, found that 310 parts included in its bullet trains did not meet the agreed standards. The scandal led to a major dip in Kobe Steel’s share price and the resignation of CEO Hiroya Kawasaki. The company’s March 2018 report on the scandal found that it had ‘a management style that overemphasized profitability, and inadequate corporate governance.’ Kobe Steel (KBSTY), a century-old industrial giant, has admitted to falsifying data on products sold to top customers like Boeing (BA) and Toyota (TM). It says as many as 500 companies could be affected, including manufacturers of Japan’s famous bullet trains. Essentially, Kobe employees faked reports to make it look as though products met the specifications requested by customers when in fact they didn’t. The scandal initially concerned copper and aluminum parts, but has spread to steel products, too. It has raised doubts about thousands of tons of material shipped over a period of more than 10 years. For the aluminum and copper parts, false data was given about their strength and durability. In the aerospace industry, Boeing and Japan’s Mitsubishi (MHVYF) both used Kobe parts made with falsified data in their aircraft. But the two companies insisted they don’t believe the parts present a safety concern. Japanese automakers Toyota (TM), Honda (HMC) and Nissan (NSANF) acknowledged they had used affected Kobe materials but were still assessing the consequences for their vehicles. Ford (F) has said it found aluminum parts in the hood of its Mondeo model in China, but can’t confirm if they were sourced during the affected period. Other big companies — including GM (GM), Mazda (MZDAF) and plane-maker Airbus (EADSF) — said they haven’t found any suspect parts so far but are combing their supply chains regardless. The future of Kobe Steel is unclear, but it looks bleak right now. Its stock has nosedived 40% since the revelations first emerged. Some analysts have warned the company could go bust, and others have suggested it could be broken up and sold off to rivals. Kobe hasn’t put a number on the likely size of the financial hit from the scandal. The firm’s CEO has said it will bear the costs of any product recalls by its customers. He is also leading an internal probe into what happened. With this in mind, write a case study in an essay format, addressing the below mentioned points: Critically discuss the various costs that Kobe Steel had to face owing to the scandal. Your discussion should comprehensively address the visible costs, internal administrative costs as well as intangible costs the firm had to face. Critically discuss the reason that prompted or encouraged such a corrupt practice to occur in a well-established and reputable company like Kobe Steel. Analyze the performance of Kobe Steel from the year 2015 to the year 2019. Do you think that there are other reasons beyond the corporate fraud that may have affected their performance? Discuss. Examine the incorporation of triple bottom line framework by Kobe Steel. Assess its implementation and discuss its outcome. Do you think that incorporation of the triple bottom line framework can mitigate or eliminate corrupt practice in the company?