Researcher's interview coup with fugitive CEO


He’s been pursued by journalists, TV executives and the police in Japan, from where he escaped in a music equipment box.

Now, Carlos Ghosn – one of the world’s most successful and polemic industry chiefs – has provided testimony of a different kind, to LJMU researcher Moustafa Haj Youssef, a senior lecturer (associate professor) in International Strategic Management.

“The project is about business character assassination and discretion, he was the best candidate for this project” says Moustafa, who spent two and a half hours with the fugitive ex-chief of Nissan and Renault, who was infamously smuggled out of Japan in December 2019 to escape what he calls trumped up charges against him.

The project main objective is to understand if character assassination is the result of enacting high discretion in a low discretion environment.

'Business disrupter'

Ghosn, who ran Nissan from 1999-2017, spearheaded the auto giant’s turnaround from near bankruptcy to huge profitability, earning the nickname "Mr. Fix It" and Fortune’s Asia Businessman of the Year.

But his style ruffled more than a few feathers in the culturally sensitive world of Japanese business, not least his firing of 24,000 employees early in his tenure.

For Dr Haj Youssef, Carlos Ghosn is a pioneer, an outlier, whose track-record challenges accepted wisdoms from management theory.

“From the public viewpoint Ghosn’s story is one of ‘hero to fugitive’ but this is a fantastic example of disruption in leadership practice.

Leadership 'thinking'

“How Ghosn broke through the cultural ceilings to act in the pure interests of the business is the kernel of my interest and our conversation revolved around the mechanisms of his thinking and planning.”

Moustafa’s research centres on executive boundaries and in particular the latitude of action that they enjoy, and he believes that despite the countless media interviews, this is the first with Ghosn from business and academic perspectives.

The Harvard Review interviewed him but even theirs was more about his rise and fall than his methods and thinking.

The project is being led by our own Dr Haj Youssef in collaboration with Dr. Ingo Kleindienst from Aarhus University in Denmark, Dr Daniele Khalife Fraiha and Dr Madonna Salameh Ayanian from USEK in Lebanon.


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