TOKYO -- A management shake-up at Toyota heralds a new era that will force the firm to look beyond the narrow confines of corporate life in Japan and help it in the global marketplace, analysts said on Thursday.

The world's largest automaker said Wednesday it had appointed three outside board members for the first time, and would appoint non-Japanese CEOs in the U.S., Africa and Latin America, in addition to Europe.

It marks a huge shift for Toyota (IW 1000/5), which had always followed traditional Japanese management practices, with most of its executives and senior managers picked from people who had risen through the ranks.

But its management style had come in for criticism in recent years as too parochial for a global business, and its shortcomings were highlighted by a slow response to the recall of millions of vehicles since 2009 over safety defects.

Analysts said they hoped the changes would lead to a new management approach.

"Toyota's leadership changes portend a new era," said James Post, an expert on corporate governance at Boston University School of Management.

"New directors, drawn from beyond Japan's shores, will help develop a truly global view at the top," he added.