Sony Corporation is one of the leaders and main manufacturers in several industries including communications, information technology, electronics, and entertainment. This Japanese company has faced a huge number of challenges since its foundation in 1946. Being a major actor in motion pictures, games, music, and electronics forced Sony to do business everywhere around the world. The company created several branches called Sony Computer Entertainment, Sony Music Entertainment, Sony Pictures Entertainment and others in order to separate its business activities. At the same time, we must also keep in mind the fact that this is a Japanese firm, with its own culture and specific characteristics. How did Sony conquer the US and Europe despite the cultural barriers? Did its specific culture affected Sony in a positive or a negative way in this global quest? I will try to analyze what happened and why Sony became such a successful brand in so many industries in spite of key problems.
[...] Their general goal is to become the leader of innovation in the long run. Sony has a “fighting spirit to innovate”[xii]. The idea is to create the popular and trendy products before everyone else. It's not just about becoming the most performing company in each market. Howard Stringer's spirit was not really compatible with this plan. Stringer's goal was “to concentrate on products, not process, which had choked innovation at Sony”[xiii]. This was a very interesting situation, because Japan was supposed to have a very high score in masculinity when we look at a few Hofstede cultural dimensions statistics[xiv]. [...]
[...] Furthermore, we will analyze two interesting cases that reflect intercultural management in Sony and how to handle culture clashes. As the consumer electronics market is evolving at a high pace, Sony can't afford to make costly mistakes due to cultural differences, as it could affect negatively its brand image. Furthermore, if properly handled, these cultural differences could lead to a high competitive advantage for Sony. Analysis and Recommended Course of Action Problem Top Management and Corporate Culture Sir Howard Stringer was promoted from CEO of the American branch of Sony to CEO and chairman of the whole Sony Corporation in 2005. [...]
[...] This is what Howard Stringer announced as “Sony United”[xv]. That was a reaction to a remark he made once he was appointed as the CEO. He noticed that Sony's different branches didn't collaborate with each other, and that led to several issues. He even said, half-joking, that Sony is so big that it makes “the same thing twice in different parts of the company, and no-one seems to notice”[xvi]. Howard Stringer's objective was then to establish collaboration between the different units of Sony. [...]
[...] We could consider this cultural compatibility as a source of competitive advantage. But apparently, this adventure may come to an end soon. Recently, Howard Stringer announced that “the Sony Ericsson brand must do better if it has to survive”[xxiv]. Recommended course of action Regarding the first case (the delayed project with the clash between Japanese and Latin American employees), a procedure guide should be put in place to prevent these kind of issues from happening again in the future. This document would ensure that the maximum effort of cultural adaptation is made when working in a cross-cultural environment. [...]
[...] Nobuyuki Idei was hoping for someone able to prepare Sony for the future of digital business. He tried to use Sony's cross-cultural identity as a source of competitive advantage. Howard Stringer is there to prove that Sony is not that Japanese anymore, and is going to adapt itself to the changing world. Now let's see some other points. As a foreigner arriving in a Japanese firm, communication and other kind of issues started affecting Stringer. As soon as he started working as CEO, he received contradictory messages. [...]
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