Introduction: Olympus (01:28)
Olympus became a powerhouse in the photography industry in the early 1970s. Decades later, a scandal threatened the company's existence.
Olympus Changes Leadership (05:42)
Anne-Valérie Ohlsson uses Olympus as a case study for students. Olympus expanded internationally in the 1970s with three core products. The company invested heavily in innovation while under the leadership of Tsuyoshi Kikukawa. Michael Woodford became the company’s first foreign president in 2011.
Olympus Scandal (06:17)
In 2011, Facta uncovered irregularities related to many of the company’s acquisitions. Woodford confronted Kikukawa and Vice President Hisashi Mori, but learned his power was limited. As a foreigner, he was expected to stay out of the company's most sensitive affairs.
Rising Star to Whistle-Blower (05:38)
Woodford served as president of KeyMed before taking charge of Olympus Europe. His relationship with Kikukawa and other senior managers deteriorated after he confronted them. He sought a way out of the Tokyo office that would allow him to probe further.
More Scandal Revelations (07:54)
Stress increased for Woodford. He began drinking heavily and became dependent on sleeping pills. Facta published a follow-up article that alleged links to organized crime. Woodford called for the resignations of Kikukawa and Mori.
Deposed Management (05:25)
Kikukawa changed the agenda of an emergency board meeting to vote on firing Woodford. The motion passed unanimously and Woodford was not allowed to speak. An executive demanded he turn over his computers and mobile devices. Woodford contacted Jonathan Soble at the Financial Times.
Fallout and Damage Control (02:54)
Woodford returned to Britain where, determined to hold Kikukawa and his board accountable; he did many interviews with the international press. Olympus stuck to its story, insisting that Woodford misunderstood Japanese business practices.
Tobashi Scheme (05:35)
Olympus continued to deny allegations, even as the international press exposed more information. In November 2011, the company finally admitted to making dubious acquisitions to hide massive losses. Kikukawa and other executives resigned and Olympus stock plummeted.
Winning Back Public Trust (06:17)
The Olympus case was reminiscent of the collapse of Enron a decade earlier. The company hired new leadership and released a report to reassure investors in 2012. Olympus continued to innovate with new technology. Woodford published a book about his experiences.
Credits: Olympus (00:30)
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