The importance of thorough research

Repeating comments in a different context can be misleading

At Vox Sapiens we are disappointed by a recent FT article which appears to show sloppy research. We have long admired the quality of the research and analysis in the FT compared to many other newspapers. However, today’s article appears to have taken an idea from an old article and repeated it almost verbatim, thereby misleading the reader. We are using this as an example of how it is important to be careful when using the Internet for research.

The article in question relates to Toyota – When sorry is the hardest word. In the article the author states:

A related weakness, says Hisao Inoue, author of Toyota Shock, a book on Toyota’s recent problems, is that Toyota’s relentless growth has amplified its conservative culture, by favouring bureaucratic conformity and discouraging the sort of negative views that are vital to anticipating disaster. “People with contrary opinions used to be respected, but today’s managers have succeeded by getting along,” he explains.

So as readers we probably assume that the recent problems referred to in that quote are the recalls that started earlier this year? Well, unfortunately these problems are not the subject of Inoue’s book. Consider the following from June 2009:

Hisao Inoue, author of “Toyota Shock,” a book that chronicles the automaker’s recent troubles, said Toyota sorely needs what he called “a philosophy” or “a spirituality” that a founding family member like Akio Toyoda might offer.

Source: Japan Times, Toyota counting on family ties

So Inoue’s book was published before June 26 last year. But Toyota’s recall-related problems began to become a public problem when?

Well here at Vox Sapiens we actually discussed this matter in a previous post. The post Toy-woe-ta – Looks like a business school case study in the making was published in January this year. In the post, we don’t name the exact date when the issue regarding floor mats preventing accelerator pedal release became big news. But a quick search shows that this was September last year – three months after the Japan Times article. (See, for example, Toyota/Lexus Consumer Safety Advisory: Potential Floor Mat Interference with Accelerator Pedal.)

So Inoue cannot be referring to the floor mat recall nor subsequent problems.

Sorry FT, but this just isn’t good enough.

We would have made these comments on the website against the article in question, but unfortunately this article appeared not to have comments enabled.

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