Volkswagen CEO Apologizes: Facial Emotional Expressions

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Volkswagen CEO Apologizes: Facial Emotional Expressions
Anneke Zwart, Student (University), Netherlands, Moderator
Following the emission scandal of Volkswagen, its CEO, Prof. Dr. Martin Winterkorn, publicly apologized earlier this week in a video statement by saying he was 'deeply sorry’ that his company violated existing rules with respect to emissions. Generally speaking, the public expects an apology after a scandal. However, not all apologies are received well by the public.
Adams and Brink (2015) perform research on how emotional and facial expressions of organizational representatives are perceived during public apologies by investors and thus affect the stock market performance of an organization. They reached following conclusions:
  1. DEVIANT EMOTIONS: Adams and Brink found that it is extremely important to minimize the expression of deviant emotions such as happiness and delight, because it signals insincere regret and through that it diminishes the efficiency of a corporate apology.
  2. SUBTLE EMOTIONAL EXPRESSIONS: Not only deviant emotional expressions, also su...Sign up

Puppet Behaviour
Koray Tulgar, CxO / Board, Turkey, Member
I felt like he is behaving like a puppet. He is afraid and he does not believe what he says. He is reading what he says. This makes him unbeleivable....Sign up

Volkswagen's Emission Scandal: Hypocrisy@Work
Lamanna, Consultant, Italy, Member
Either you, Mr Winterkorn, come up with the name(s) who caused this mess, or your talking just comes down to lip service!...Sign up

The Spiritual Quotient and Authenticity in Facial Expressions
srinivas, Lecturer, India, Member
Probably by working on and having higher spiritual quotient levels, the authenticity level will be higher. Both in words and actions....Sign up

Actions Speak Louder Than Emotions
Greer, Project Manager, United Kingdom, Member
Sentiment and language is easy - definitive action and demonstrable results is hard - but this is what changes peoples perceptions of "sincerity". Evi...Sign up

Tone is also Important
Ivan Hilliard, Profesor, Spain, Member
Tone is also important. With the translation it is hard to gauge, but it seems flat in German. Even when he says he is "deeply sorry" and wishes to ma...Sign up

Not Convicing
Roman Bauer, Management Consultant, Czech Republic, Member
I feel he did the apology, because he had to. But he hasn't convinced me. Expressions are not with proper body language. Missing the real emotions lik...Sign up

R. Martin Winterkorn's Apology
Radha Raj, India, Member
As I am now studying professional and organisational communication, I find this discussion very interesting. Certainly, sincerity can be conveyed thro...Sign up

Is He Sad, Sorry or Unable to Act as Such
Ahmed Ali, Director, Saudi Arabia, Member
His body language does not project true feelings as he is reading from a script. He does not project feelings of sadness, sorrow or sincerity. He is u...Sign up

Facial Micro Expressions Analysing
Daniel AZARIAN, HR Consultant, France, Member
It would be very interesting to hear what a facial micro expression expert (like Paul Ekmann or David Matsumoto) says about how sincere these apologie...Sign up

He is Reading on a Transparent Screen
Elvio Valchi, Teacher, Argentina, Member
His eyes movements suggests he is reading a text on a transparent screen in front of the camera. The lack of expressions (other than a slight upward m...Sign up

Forum; Volkswagen CEO Apologises
Graham Williams, Management Consultant, South Africa, Member
The words are good. But no gestures, no facial expression, no voice tone, pitch, pace etc. (all lost in translation)....Sign up

Scary Face Reading the Paper
Fernando Moreno, Manager, Ecuador, Member
Just is reading a paper with a scary face.Not more emottions. At least have the courage to come out and apologize....Sign up

Judging Mr. Winterkorn
No, he did not 100% convince me based on body language, minimum facial movement and reading a message. On the other hand I'm just judging Mr. Winterko...Sign up

My First Impression Was not Too Positive; However!
Deric Crosby, Manager, United States, Member
My first impression was not too positive for a couple of reasons. First I’m not German and don't speak German so I don't know where the tones should b...Sign up

Winterkorn's Apology
Joy Roberts, Management Consultant, Jamaica, Member
He did look scared but not sincere. He was obviously reading a prepared speech which he seemed to have been more focused on than the content. This was...Sign up

Dr. Winterkorn's Apology
Briolett, Manager, Canada, Member
It is clear to me he was reading from a script that was somewhat memorized. I watched it both with and without the volume and his actions seemed flat....Sign up

An Unuseful Video. Too Much Under Control
Philippe Etienne, Coach, France, Member
I am not convinced that this video was useful for VW. He is reading what he says and he is entirely under control. He is more interested in delivering...Sign up

Our World Requires Polished Scripts
Richard Hansen, Coach, United States, Member
I invite us to consider another opinion of the value of the controlled and scripted delivery of his/VW's message. That is what is best, a precise mess...Sign up

Cultural Differences
Elena Zhila, Project Manager, Germany, Member
Very interesting discussion. I am an expat living in Germany, familiar with language and culture. Germans are called the Japanese of Europe.

...Sign up

Corporate Accountability
KARIN SHNORHAVORIAN, Financial Consultant, United States, Member
I agree that is was more important to deliver a precise message as opposed to an emotional one which would have the media at VW's jugular. The Sign up

Undermined and Adrift
Arthur Panton, Consultant, Kenya, Member
I think his reaction, had it been an angry one at those in the company who deceived their customer base, would have been easier to identify with, and ...Sign up

Volkswagen CEO Apologizes: Facial Emotional Expressions
harminder mohan, HR Consultant, India, Member
To me the facial expression seems genuine. His eyebrows have shrunk forward and nose line is also prominent. Secondly, acknowledging publicly itself i...Sign up

Unehical and Immoral
G.C.Nijampure, Business Consultant, India, Member
Apparently his apology is not genuine. His resignation, under the circumstances is inevitably a cover up, and he took wrong risk for the company might...Sign up

Apologetic But in to Much Hot Water to Be Sincere
Nicolas, Director, Japan, Member
Clearly not a happy face but as other commented, it comes across as scripted and lags emotion. Still, his delivery gives me little reason to doubt his...Sign up

Angry and Afraid
Paolo Vallarano, Teacher, Italy, Member
After watching the video it seems to me that Wolkswagen chairman was above all afraid and sometimes angry and sad at the same time. He's trying to kee...Sign up

Just my Two Cents
Euro Perozzi, Italy, Member
At a certain point there are some micro expressions testimonial of some internal movements. He is trying to listen (to him self?)
I think that th...Sign up

Getting the Balance Right
Ian Hotz, Management Consultant, Kenya, Member
Many valid points from contributors. Who is Mr Winterkorn's target audience? If 1. He is delivering this message to a global audience and 2. He is aim...Sign up

Volkswagen CEO Apologizes: Facial Emotional Expressions
Marquis, HR Consultant, France, Member
A lot of times we judge people not taking in consideration the differences of culture.
For Germans to show emotions in business means being unpro...Sign up

Are Right Topics Addressed?
Borje Vickberg, Sweden, Member
An interesting discussion, but is focus on the right topics? If you’re yearning for sincerity, genuine emotions and honesty you should seek it in the ...Sign up

Verzeihung! . . . Sorry
Eric Nelson, Business Consultant, United States, Member
Stoic; insincere. Despite Germans' customary non-emotional executive speeches, this should be a message to the masses; not just Germany.
I grew u...Sign up

Reaction of Winterkorn is Sincere
Eric Sommer, Management Consultant, Netherlands, Member
I don't agree with the vast mayority of respondants: I do find the apology of Mr. Winterkorn sincere. In my opinion, he says the right words, and he i...Sign up

Contextless Judgements
Andy Lake, Management Consultant, United Kingdom, Member
I tend to agree with those who say there is distress underlying the flat tone.
However - I think it is mostly misleading to make context-less jud...Sign up

No Sincerity at All
Carlos Marques, Strategy Consultant, Portugal, Member
In fact he was uncomfortable (some minor body oscillations and irregular breathing), when referring to regulators he was afraid those do not believe h...Sign up

German / Deutsche Version of Dr. Winterkorn’s Statement
Jaap de Jonge, CEO, Netherlands, Editor
@Eric Sommer: Here is the German version for your review: