Combining cultures at Renault-Nissan
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Combining cultures at Renault-Nissan

Renault-Nissan: combining the corporate cultures of two global businesses

When well-known brands work together, pragmatism is the key to building harmony between independent teams.

When powerful brands come together to form an alliance, there are challenges around making sure everyone involved is committed to the joint venture. Building a strong corporate culture has been key to the success of Renault-Nissan, which builds one in every 10 cars sold around the world, says Jérémie Papin, director responsible for financial strategy.

“We’ve made sure we protect, when we talk about culture, the individuality of each company. Renault is the company that Renault employees want to fight for, and Nissan is the firm that Nissan employees want to fight for. We’ve made sure we don’t blur this in any way; there is no alliance company, there are no alliance financials. The joint venture is only a means to further the performance of both companies,” he says.

The way of working that the Franco-Japanese alliance has developed ensures that every project is to the benefit of both companies, says Papin. “The simple fact is that there isn’t one example where one company can say: ‘I wouldn’t have done that if I hadn’t been in partnership with the other’. It means you have removed most of the bad stories or sentiment that anyone would have had – and that’s most important.”

Papin says joint projects undertaken are based on facts and “things that make sense”. He says: “There’s no great philosophical discussion about trying to blend cultures or build a joint culture.”

As more people work for several brands of the alliance, there is a growing sense “that I am part of something bigger than the company I started off working for, and that is the revolution we are going through today,” he says. But it is with the view that “the only reason I am doing this thing is because it will benefit both companies. That is very important; nobody feels obliged to do something because someone has 44 per cent in this company or because the other has 15 per cent,” he insists.

A number of areas still require clarity, including control of ‘big data’ in the alliance. Papin says information collected by Nissan on Nissan drivers and by Renault about Renault drivers is not shared because of anti-trust and anti-competition rules. “When it comes to pricing to put products on the road, and the commercial policies to support those efforts, it is left to the two companies, with no exchange of data,” he adds.

By establishing clearly the terms of the alliance and deciding what aspects remain outside of its control, Renault-Nissan has effectively become the world’s third biggest carmaker – turning out around eight million cars a year. “I think we are very much a model of the 21st century because of the way we are getting people from different countries, 10,000 km apart, to work together in a systematic way,” says Papin.

The importance of a strong culture for building a strong alliance:

  • The successful marketing of products produced by an alliance is dependent on a strong culture that underpins the brand strengths of those products.
  • A strong separate culture for the teams working in the alliance is important for building commitment of staff and, therefore, raising productivity.
  • It also differentiates the team from those working in the entities outside the alliance.
  • A strong corporate culture is likely to prolong the length of a successful alliance.
Sammy Todd Former Marketing Manager CIM
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