THE TOYOTA WAY
Kiichiro Toyoda began research on gasoline-powered engines in 1930. The Toyota Corolla was introduced in 1968 and went on to become the best-selling passenger car in the world, with 27 million purchased in more than 140 countries. In 1998, Toyota launched its first full-size pickup, the Toyota Tundra. Toyota also expanded its product line by adding the Lexus brand, which became known for its exceptional quality and customer service. Toyota also introduced the Scion brand of moderately priced vehicles for the youth market.
By 2012, Toyota had the capacity to build 2.2 million cars and trucks and 1.45 million engines in 15 plants across North America. Toyota’s sales and distribution organization include 1,500 Toyota, Lexus, and Scion dealers. Today, Toyota is the world’s largest automobile manufacturer with revenues of $235 billion and 325,000 employees. The company is ranked the 10th largest corporation by Fortune magazine. The company’s core principle is “to contribute to society and the economy by producing high-quality products and services.” Its success is often attributed to a business philosophy referred to as “The Toyota Way.”
There are two values that act as pillars of The Toyota Way: continuous improvement and respect for people. As the company has grown, it has also sought a larger role in society. Combining the Toyota Way with its corporate philanthropy has led to an environmental vision that includes many ideas related to the concept of “sustainable mobility.” One of these ideas was eventually introduced as the Prius, a hybrid vehicle with a gasoline engine and an electric motor combination called the Hybrid Synergy Drive.
To increase awareness and knowledge of the Prius, Toyota specified the development of partnerships as a goal. Toyota recently announced a grant of $5 million and 25 Toyota vehicles in support of U.S. National Parks. Generally, the goal of the national parks partnership program is to make a personal connection with park visitors about Toyota’s hybrid vehicles when they are in a natural setting in which they are receptive to receiving a message about sustainable mobility. Research by Toyota indicates that the program is working. In the future, all of Toyota’s marketing activities, including the partnership strategy and the national parks program, will determine if Toyota can become “the most respected car company in the world.”
1. How does Toyota’s approach to social responsibility relate to the three concepts of social responsibility described in the text (profit responsibility, stakeholder responsibility, and societal responsibility)?
2. Discuss. How does Toyota’s view of sustainable mobility contribute to the company’s overall mission?
3. Discuss. Has Toyota’s National Parks project been a success?
4. What indicators suggest that the project has had an impact? Discuss. What future activities would you suggest for Toyota as it strives to improve its reputation? Discuss.
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