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The Rise and Fall of Carlos Ghosn: Part 4

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CURT NICKISCH: After his arrest, Carlos Ghosn was held at Kosuge Detention Center, a concrete prison on the outskirts of Tokyo. This uber executive was used to jetting to Davos and sleeping in palatial homes in Paris, Beirut, and Rio, paid for by Nissan. Now he got a cell with a hard futon, paid for by the Japanese government. Instead of his favorite filet mignon, he got rice, miso soup, and a small portion of fish. Ghosn’s corporate calendar used to be booked 15 months out. Now his bath time was limited to 15 minutes. Ghosn says he was interrogated up to four hours a day without his lawyers present. That’s OK under Japanese law when you’re first charged. He did see his defense attorneys regularly, and for a short time, journalists could visit him.

YANN ROUSSEAU: So he was wearing some sport pants and a big sweater.

CURT NICKISCH: Yann Rousseau with the French business newspaper, Les Echos, was one of the very few reporters to talk with him in prison.

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YANN ROUSSEAU: And he had some kind of a flip flop, the one you use here in Japan when you go to an onsen, you know, a public bath. Because he couldn’t have his nice shoes. So he was that, but he was still very classy. His hair was a little grayer and messier because, you know, he used to put dark dye. He was dying his hair black to look younger. So his hair was a bit more messy and grayer, but he was OK. He was still strong. He was not complaining that much. He did not want to talk about his feelings. He wanted to jump right away into his theory.

CURT NICKISCH: As Rousseau jotted down in a notepad as fast as he could, two guards watched over them. One stood right by, writing down everything they said. English was required. The other guard stood in the back of the room, controlling the time.

YANN ROUSSEAU: It’s Japan, so it’s 20 minutes sharp. It’s not 19:55. It’s not 20:05. It’s 20 minutes sharp. So the guy was telling us, ten minutes left. Five minutes left. So Ghosn wanted to talk a lot, a lot. And me, I was interrupting him to ask him questions. So it was back and forth like that, but mainly 95 percent it was him talking, and letting go, and I feel he felt good to let go. And for the first time, we are hearing his official defense version.

SOUND OF CARLOS GHOSN IN HIS APRIL 2019 VIDEO STATEMENT: The first message is I’m innocent. It is not new. I repeat it today.

CURT NICKISCH: Ghosn would share his official defense version in a video statement after being released on bail. He was now facing charges of allegedly underreporting his pay by millions of dollars, transferring his personal financial losses to Nissan’s books, misusing company assets, and funneling $5 million from a subsidiary for personal gain.

SOUND OF CARLOS GHOSN IN HIS APRIL 2019 VIDEO STATEMENT: And I’m also innocent of all the accusation that came around these charges, that are all biased, taken out of context, twisted in a way to paint a personage of greed and a personage of dictatorship.

CURT NICKISCH: In the video, Ghosn maintains that he’s the real victim. He explains that he’d been working to merge Renault and Nissan more closely, but that Nissan executives and the Japanese government did not want that. It’s why, he alleges, they conspired to stop him.

SOUND OF CARLOS GHOSN IN HIS APRIL 2019 VIDEO STATEMENT: Finally, my biggest wish is to have a fair trial. I am privileged to have three competent lawyers around me who’s going to defend the case. But they don’t share with me a lot of serenity about the fairness of the trial. And I’m sorry, I was not able to share more with you and respond to many questions that you have in your mind. But hopefully, we’ll do it at a certain point in time.

CURT NICKISCH: Carlos Ghosn spent 130 days in jail. When he was released on bail, a judge made him surrender three passports and $14 million. Then he spent months at his Tokyo home awaiting trial. He told the media he would vigorously defend himself in court, but all the while he was planning his escape. Over the winter holidays, Ghosn executes his plan. He walks out of his home as if out for a stroll. He travels 300 miles to the airport in Osaka. He climbs into a music equipment box with holes drilled in the bottom and gets wheeled onto a private jet, bypassing passport controls. The plane flies to Istanbul, where Ghosn switches to another private plane and continues to Lebanon. That’s where he is now, out of reach of Japanese authorities.

CURT NICKISCH: This is The Rise and Fall of Carlos Ghosn, a special series of the HBR IdeaCast from Harvard Business Review. I’m Curt Nickisch. This is the final episode in a four-part series. If you have not listened to the first three episodes yet, I recommend you go back and listen in order. The series starts with episode number 800 of the HBR IdeaCast. In this final episode, we’re going to hear from Carlos Ghosn and sift through the fallout of his arrest and escape. First, Ghosn will tell his side of the story and respond to criticisms voiced in the previous episodes. Then we’ll examine what this all means. What went right and wrong at Nissan? What can we learn from it? We want to know what turned one of the world’s most visionary CEOs into a fugitive?

ADI IGNATIUS: I have hit record, yes.

CARLOS GHOSN: Is the image OK? Is the sound OK? Good.

CURT NICKISCH: We interviewed Carlos Ghosn over videoconference. He was at his home in Beirut. HBR editor in chief Adi Ignatius did the interview. He’s interviewed Ghosn before.

ADI IGNATIUS: OK, so the last time we spoke was 2016 at an auto show in New York City. And all I can say is, this is a very strange world where we’ve all ended up.

CARLOS GHOSN: It’s true. It’s very strange. A lot of things happened, and I don’t think that any planning would have foreseen what’s happening to me and what’s happening to the [Renault-Nissan] Alliance.

ADI IGNATIUS: What is your life like in Lebanon now? How are you keeping busy?

CARLOS GHOSN: I have a completely different life from the life I had before November 2018. In a certain way, I am rediscovering small pleasures in life that, you know, when you are into the storm of the corporate world, you have a tendency to forget. I sleep better. I enjoy particularly having breakfast with my wife without being rushed into taking a plane or going to the office. Taking a bath without limitation of time and with a big, thick towel. I can tell you, this is the thing that in prison in Japan shocked me the most.

CURT NICKISCH: But in some ways, Ghosn is still a prisoner in Lebanon. He can’t leave. There’s an international arrest warrant out for him. He hasn’t been on a plane since he fled Japan.

CARLOS GHOSN: There is part of frustration. The frustration coming from the fact that obviously on top of my reputation, my own legacy, to see the three companies that I have worked for, first Nissan, then Renault, then Mitsubishi, collapsing in a couple of years, that’s very frustrating.

ADI IGNATIUS: So let’s go back to Japan for a second. So after you saved Nissan, and you know, the country sort of went crazy over Carlos Ghosn, what was it like to be at the center of this storm of positive public attention?

CARLOS GHOSN: Well, you know, when I arrived in 1999, I was shocked by how boring Nissan was. It was a very boring company. The brand was boring. The products were boring. Nobody was talking about us. The only thing which was original in Nissan is my arrival. There we are. There was something strange, exciting happening. And it was around me. You know, after the dullness, the sadness, the grayness of Nissan, all of a sudden things were exciting. So this hype, I wanted to maintain it because this hype I wanted to transmit it to the brand, to the cars, to the technology, to the alliance. And it was very successful.

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CURT NICKISCH: So successful that Ghosn says he knew he had a lot of leverage in 2005 when Louis Schweitzer was stepping down as CEO of Renault. Ghosn recalls how Schweitzer did not want him to lead both companies.

CARLOS GHOSN: He said, “it’s too much for you, managing two companies.” OK? Well, I said, “well, that in this case, I’ll manage Nissan.” But then he was in a very tough position. He couldn’t say, “oh, if this guy who is known globally is managing Nissan, and I bring somebody else to manage Renault, I have a problem.”

CURT NICKISCH: The problem being that Ghosn, this new star of the auto industry, would easily outshine anyone leading Renault, putting Nissan into the driver’s seat of the Alliance.

CARLOS GHOSN: So he accepted the fact that I would manage the two companies – not out of conviction, but out of need.

ADI IGNATIUS: So when we spoke to Louis Schweitzer, he said that he went to Renault’s board and tried to have you removed from your leadership positions after the so-called spy scandal in 2011 because he was worried that, I think his term was you had lost touch with reality. Were you aware of any such effort by Schweitzer at the time?

CARLOS GHOSN: No. I was not, I was not aware of this. But in fact, in 2011, I knew that the [French] state wanted a body expiatory for what happened. They wanted. And I’ve been told very clearly, “it’s you or your COO.” And I’ve been told after many discussions at the level of the government, because obviously, they were the main and the most influential shareholder of Renault, you know, that I was too precious for the Alliance, so they could not get rid of me. So it was very simple. It was very straightforward. You know, with all the due respect to Schweitzer, I think we’re not hired because we are in touch with the reality or not touch in reality. We are hired to deliver results.

ADI IGNATIUS: You know, he called you the best turnaround leader he’s ever known. But he said you struggled with sort of longer-term strategy at Renault and Nissan. Do you think that’s fair?

CARLOS GHOSN: No. No, it’s not fair. I mean, my turnaround results are obvious. But how do you explain all the years of growth? How do you explain the technology leadership on electric car? Frankly, I don’t agree with him. Usually, turnaround artists are the ones who turn around the situation, then after three years, things collapse. Well, I’ve been CEO for 18 years. I mean, in 18 years you can give me credit that I’m not a cost killer, a quick fix kind of guy, turnaround artist. I must have something else to last so long.

CURT NICKISCH: So why didn’t it last longer, then? Ghosn says it’s because of how the Japanese reacted to the mandate he got from Renault’s board. The mandate to make the Alliance between the two companies stronger, to make it irreversible. Here’s the problem, he says. What each side wanted was unsustainable.

CARLOS GHOSN: So I said, “no, look, I don’t agree on a merger.’ So that’s why I opposed the French. I said, ‘no, a merger’s not going to work. It would be terrible.” Because we would have to agree on every single aspect of a merger, and a merger kills enthusiasm because it’s very difficult to make a merger where nobody appears as a winner, and nobody appears as a loser. It would be practically impossible into the situation.

CURT NICKISCH: On the other hand, he says Nissan preferred keeping the Alliance the way it was.

CARLOS GHOSN: The Japanese were worried about the French wanting a merger, and I told the Japanese that the status quo is impossible because the status quo means I stay in the job. The status quo depended a lot on me.

CURT NICKISCH: “The status quo is impossible. The status quo depends on me.” That’s something we’ll come back to. But to finish this argument of Ghosn’s, he says he tried to come up with a middle way – a compromise that would have converged more of the two companies’ operations without fully combining them. But that he did not expect that Nissan would fight it so much. And that, he says, explains the backlash that brought him down.

CARLOS GHOSN: The only way to get rid of Carlos Ghosn is to totally incapacitate him. And totally incapacitate him was the justice system.

CURT NICKISCH: So that’s his explanation. That there was a Japanese plot to halt any steps towards convergence, and they felt that was the only way they could stop him. But isn’t it also a leadership failure when you’re totally surprised by the fact that one’s following you where you’re trying to take them? There’s something about that explanation that doesn’t sound like the Carlos Ghosn we’ve come to know in these episodes. When he came to Nissan, his success stemmed from getting the company to come up with its own solutions. Remember, he had told those Stanford business students later that the solution is always inside. It’s never outside. It’s inside. That he had complete buy-in when Nissan workers realized he was helping them see through their ideas. According to his plot theory, he was trying to do something that Nissan executives and shareholders and workers did not want. And that’s a chasm of a difference between Ghosn in 1999 and Ghosn in 2018.

CURT NICKISCH: When we talked to him, we brought up the fact that French authorities have seized some of his assets and have questioned him. They’re looking into his tax filings, the financing of lavish parties, millions spent on private planes, and subsidies to a car dealership in Oman. Meanwhile, he’s involved in other lawsuits. A Dutch court ordered him to return $6 million. Ghosn denies any wrongdoing.

ADI IGNATIUS: Do you feel, is this the way your life is going to be for the rest of your life, that you’re basically digging in to defend your legacy?

CARLOS GHOSN: Oh, yeah. I will. I will do it because I’m proud of my legacy. I’m proud of what I’ve done, and I have all the facts to back this up. I take these three laggards, and I make them a powerful combination of an automotive group. Well, this is something I’m really proud of. And this is something nobody can take from me. Now, after this, they come with a story where they say, “Yeah, but he has been arrested. There are so many charges that certainly something is wrong.” Which is part of the plan. People say, “You know, if you want to assassinate somebody, you throw on him so many charges, that we hope that one of them at least will stick.” And all the people that don’t like him because he’s the CEO, because he’s not a national hero somewhere, because, you know, he’s a wealthy, greedy guy, and likes money, etc. You know, they want you to be guilty.

CURT NICKISCH: Carlos Ghosn avoided trial by jumping bail and fleeing Japan. He says the country has a corrupt justice system and points to its 99 percent conviction rate at trial. Supporters of Japan’s judicial system say that prosecutors only bring charges when they’re positive they’ll win a conviction. Without a fair trial, we may never know whether Carlos Ghosn is guilty of the malfeasance he’s been alleged to have done. But there are other people who are facing criminal charges for helping Carlos Ghosn elude his. In Turkey, two pilots and one airline official were convicted of illegally smuggling an immigrant. They were each sentenced to four years in prison. In Japan, two U.S. nationals pleaded guilty to helping Ghosn escape. They each face up to three years in prison.

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ADI IGNATIUS: Do you feel responsible for these people who are – you know, you’re in Lebanon. You’re relatively free. And they are not. How responsible do you feel for all of that?

CARLOS GHOSN: Frankly, the responsibility of all of that lies first in some Nissan executives and board members and prosecutors in Japan, and some circles in the government. They are at the basis of all this tragedy. So if there is any responsibility about the massacre that took place on an individual level and at the level of the corporation, they should be held responsible for it.

CURT NICKISCH: Coming up after the break.

RAVINDER PASSI: Well, if you were given the opportunity to set your own pay, what would you do?

CURT NICKISCH: That’s when The Rise and Fall of Carlos Ghosn continues.

CURT NICKISCH: There’s one thing that Carlos Ghosn said at a business conference that I keep going back to. It’s a lot like what he told us in our interview, that the status quo is impossible. The status quo depends on me. It was at the President’s Summit in 2013.

SOUND OF MODERATOR LILLIAN GJERULF KRETZ FROM A VIDEO OF THE 2013 LIVE EVENT: Carlos, when you assumed the senior role at Nissan and Renault, you became the first person in the world to control two companies on the Fortune Global 500 simultaneously. I know you spend a third of your time in Japan, a third of your time in France, a third in an airplane to destinations around the world. Tell us, do you ever consider cloning yourself? [LAUGHTER]

SOUND OF CARLOS GHOSN FROM A VIDEO OF THE 2013 LIVE EVENT: I think when you’re CEO of one company, you don’t want more. Usually, we have enough challenges and trouble and worries and stress not to want more. It happens that because of the circumstances that came around this Alliance, I had to take the two jobs in 2005. I knew it was difficult. I knew it was a very singular situation, but I don’t think it is something that you can program, or I don’t think this is something which is desirable for anybody. But it is just the fruit of circumstances, fruit of circumstances that led us to this solution.

CURT NICKISCH: It’s that line, “I don’t think this is something which is desirable for anybody.” Why, then, is it desirable for Carlos Ghosn? It’s not like he was saying it was a temporary solution – as in, “This situation is not desirable, but I’m working to find a replacement.” No, this was 2013, eight years after he became CEO of two Fortunate Global 500 companies at the same time. It’s like he’s saying it’s an accident of history that no one can change. You wouldn’t let anyone run two countries. You wouldn’t let someone run two hospitals on separate continents. Why did people think that Carlos Ghosn could be the CEO of Renault and Nissan, draw full salaries at each while doing those jobs part-time and say that’s normal and good? Maybe Louis Schweitzer was right all along that Ghosn could not manage two companies 10,000 kilometers apart. Which is also to say, Schweitzer was wrong to let Ghosn go ahead and do that. Remember this regret?

LOUIS SCHWEITZER: That I think was a mistake.

CURT NICKISCH: Do you feel any responsibility for that?

LOUIS SCHWEITZER: Well, quite frankly, I have asked myself this question quite often.

CURT NICKISCH: And quite early, as it turns out. A few years after giving up the CEO job, Schweitzer was stepping down at the chair of Renault, and he had second thoughts about handing that role over to Ghosn, as well.

LOUIS SCHWEITZER: I was wondering if Ghosn was the right guy long-term. Because he had showed in those four years and made some choices, from a strategic point of view, which I considered were not correct.

CURT NICKISCH: On the other hand, Schweitzer wasn’t sure if he was being objective. When you hand over a company to someone else, it’s normal to have complicated feelings about that. So that’s why he says he asked for some advice.

LOUIS SCHWEITZER: And I consulted two or three French CEOs and asked them their feeling. And they told me, “no, you should let him.”

CURT NICKISCH: Which he did. Which only gave Carlos Ghosn more control over Renault, more control over a situation that Schweitzer had never considered a very good setup. Schweitzer may have felt he had no choice, but he did have a choice. And the choice he made gave Carlos Ghosn more power. Now Schweitzer would later go to Renault’s board and ask them to remove Ghosn. But it was too late. After that, only the company boards had real control over Ghosn. What was their role in enabling him in this highly unusual position of power?

RAVINDER PASSI: My name is Ravinder Passi. I am the former global general counsel at Nissan Motor Company, Limited.

CURT NICKISCH: Ravinder Passi was at Nissan for 16 years, the last four as the company’s seniormost lawyer. He did not leave the company amicably. He’s currently involved in a whistleblower lawsuit against Nissan.

RAVINDER PASSI: I’m not sure I blame Carlos Ghosn for anything, to be honest.

CURT NICKISCH: A good example, Passi says, is compensation. The board allowed Ghosn to determine his own pay.

RAVINDER PASSI: You have to look at yourself. You have to say, “well, if you were given the opportunity to set your own pay, what would you do?” Would you look at the market rate for comparable companies and set it there? Would you set it under the market rate? Or would you take over market rate? And that’s human nature. You know, people are, for want of a better word, sometimes greedy.

CURT NICKISCH: As part of his job, Passi attended Nissan board meetings. And he blames the board for giving Ghosn too much slack. He says it shouldn’t matter that many of the board members who were Nissan employees and had their salaries determined by Carlos Ghosn because they still had a duty to govern the company.

RAVINDER PASSI: Because those guys are paid good salaries. You know, have the offices, have the cars, have all of the perks. But when it comes to doing their jobs, they were absent. They were dilettantes, in my personal view.

CURT NICKISCH: Passi questions the behavior of Renault’s board, too. He says the French company has what he considers a more proper board, with an audit committee and a remuneration committee, for instance. But we’ve heard how the French were happy to see the profits come in from Nissan. They wanted to keep Ghosn to keep the friction on that cash flow nice and low. Passi says Renault should not have been so passive.

RAVINDER PASSI: If you are so reliant on one person, then again, that points to a failure of governance in my view. Because if that person has a heart attack or gets hit by a bus, what are you going to do? I mean, you know, given the value of Nissan at the time was what, $40-50 billion, and Renault had 44 percent of that. If I was a director to Renault, I’d be working very, very hard to ensure that there was a fallback plan in play in case something happened to Carlos Ghosn.

CURT NICKISCH: And when something did happen – when Ghosn was arrested, Renault’s stock dropped, and the company would go on to post its first net loss in a decade. Nissan was similar. Several of the Japanese observers we talked to question why Nissan’s board apparently never discussed the issues that led to Ghosn’s arrest – like allegedly misusing company money and hiding his pay in a scheme that would keep sending him millions of dollars yearly after retirement.

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KEIKO OHARA: It’s really puzzling to me. Why wasn’t it internally resolved to a certain extent?

CURT NICKISCH: That’s Keiko Ohara, a corporate lawyer with a private firm in Japan. She says, had this come up in a meeting, the board could have sanctioned Ghosn, docked his pay, or fired him. And she didn’t find any answers in the published findings of Nissan’s internal investigation.

KEIKO OHARA: I read the investigational report about Ghosn having too much authority, there’s no checks and balances, etc. But it doesn’t talk at all about why the Ghosn scandal had to come out in this manner, instead of the company internally figuring out what to do.

CURT NICKISCH: Ravinder Passi agrees.

CURT NICKISCH IN INTERVIEW: How should this have been handled?

RAVINDER PASSI: I think without a doubt, it should have been handled behind closed doors.

CURT NICKISCH IN INTERVIEW: Which doors, though? When you say behind closed doors, that almost sounds like in a secret fashion. But you don’t mean that. Right?

RAVINDER PASSI: No, I don’t mean in a secret fashion. I think it should have been handled by the directors.

CURT NICKISCH IN INTERVIEW: The board members.

RAVINDER PASSI: The board members, absolutely. It should have been handled at the board level. Here what seems to have happened is that some executives took it upon themselves to run to the authorities. Now that decision by those individuals to cut out the appropriate governance body and run to the prosecutors has led to this absolute fiasco, destruction of shareholder value, significant impact on the brand.

CURT NICKISCH: Here are two points of failure in the system. Against his better judgment, Louis Schweitzer promoted Ghosn to be a dual CEO. And then the boards of Nissan and Renault neglected to hold Ghosn accountable. And there’s a third point of failure. Another group gave Ghosn a great deal of political capital in this extraordinary convergence of corporate power. And that’s the media.

WILLIAM SPOSATO: You know, he’s this great guy, and he’s a powerhouse, and he’s an uber executive. You know, and that just continues. Everyone sort of falls into that same point of view.

CURT NICKISCH: That’s William Sposato, a former Tokyo bureau chief for Reuters and a co-author of a new book on Ghosn called Collision Course.

WILLIAM SPOSATO: Reporters seldom look far into the future or consider to these types of issues. They tend to focus on what’s happening at the moment. And as long as it’s all going well, and he’s a famous name, and indeed, a name that helps to sell newspapers, no one’s really going to question it in a meaningful way.

CURT NICKISCH: Sposato’s coauthor on the book is Hans Greimel, who’s also the Asia editor for Automotive News. And Greimel says, no one in the media was seriously investigating Carlos Ghosn at the height of his power.

HANS GREIMEL: Right up until the day he was arrested, he was vaunted as the savior of Nissan, the creator of the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance, the world’s biggest auto group. And he was seen as a kind of a visionary, an industry icon. So there was kind of the thought, “Well if it’s not broke, don’t fix it.”

CURT NICKISCH: But then it did break, and it can’t easily be fixed. The whole saga has been costly all around. Ghosn’s reputation is marred. His legacy is muddy. There’s only more mistrust now between Renault and Nissan. The prospect of a stronger Alliance with more mutual benefits is at the very least delayed. And there’s also damage to Japan. Recently, when a foreign executive took the helm of a Japanese company, it made front-page news. Carlos Ghosn told us that his top piece of advice to listeners of this podcast is this.

CARLOS GHOSN: This one at least I could help a lot of people by saying don’t accept a job in Japan as a foreign executive unless they change the whole justice system. You know, understand what happens to me before you make your decision to go to Japan. This is a really serious issue, frankly. If I had doubted one percent of the system in 1999, I would have never accepted the job, never.

HIROTO SAIKAWA: This part is more difficult to explain for me. I mean, this is a bit emotional part.

CURT NICKISCH: That’s Hiroto Saikawa, who followed Ghosn as Nissan’s CEO. He was the one dealing with the fallout after Ghosn was arrested. This argument that Ghosn would not get a fair trial in Japan just doesn’t hold water for him. Saikawa says Ghosn chose to live under Japanese laws when he chose to work in Japan.

HIROTO SAIKAWA: Specifically, you know, he escaped from Japan. For me, once you are in, you need to respect, and you need to behave, and you need to show, I mean, if you are not doing any kind of wrong, then he needs to show his justice. This is how I feel.

CURT NICKISCH: Where does Carlos Ghosn leaving Japan leave us? I asked Masako Egawa what she would ask him today if she could interview him again. She’s the management professor who wrote that 2003 Harvard Business School case study on the Nissan revival.

MASAKO EGAWA: I may have asked why he stayed with Nissan for so long. There were a lot of rumors that other automakers were interested in [hiring him] because he was so successful running Nissan. That would have been a dream career for him. The fact he stayed in Nissan for so long made him complacent, which led to corrupt malfeasance and self-enriching behavior, which is a real shame for him.

CURT NICKISCH: Corruption, malfeasance, self-enriching behavior. Those are allegations. Ghosn denies any wrongdoing. They will probably never be decided in court. Still, if we think of this as a case study in management, what can we learn? Well, you have to question what the Renault-Nissan Alliance was built on. It was touted as a success story, a beacon for the future of cross-cultural collaborations at scale. Now it’s a cautionary tale.

YUUICHIRO NAKAJIMA: It is a massive disappointment.

CURT NICKISCH: Here’s merger and acquisitions consultant Yuuichiro Nakajima.

YUUICHIRO NAKAJIMA: But I’d like to think that [Ghosn] was an exceptional case. He was exceptionally successful, and he became an exceptional liability. We may not see the like of him again, in both senses.

CURT NICKISCH: And that’s because the story of Carlos Ghosn may serve as a warning. Any global company that is considering letting their CEO run a second global company will think twice. And any company that has a CEO who’s indispensable might have an exceptional liability.

CURT NICKISCH: Thanks for listening to The Rise and Fall of Carlos Ghosn, a special series of the HBR IdeaCast from Harvard Business Review. If you want to learn more about this story and dig into even more details and analysis, I have a great recommendation for you. This series is informed by and inspired by a new book from HBR Press called Collision Course: Carlos Ghosn and the Culture Wars that Upended an Auto Empire. The authors, Hans Greimel and William Sposato, contributed reporting to each of these episodes, and they’re so knowledgeable. We couldn’t have done this without them. It’s a great read for understanding even more of the drama and power struggles and business forces that were at play in this saga. Check it out to understand even more of this incredible story. The title again: Collision Course.

CURT NICKISCH: This episode was produced by Anne Saini. Our editors are Scott Berinato, Maureen Hoch, and Adi Ignatius. Sound engineering by Tim Skoog. Our team includes Sally Ashworth, Adam Buchholz, Rob Eckhardt, Ramsey Khabbaz, Scott LaPierre, Christine Liu, Melinda Merino, and Karen Player. I’m Curt Nickisch. Thank you for listening to The Rise and Fall of Carlos Ghosn, a special series of the HBR IdeaCast from Harvard Business Review.

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