The Sony Corporation a Case Study in Transnationa Media Management

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The Sony Corporation: A Case Study in Transnational Media Management by Richard A. Gershon, Western Michigan University, U.S.A.
and Tsutomu Kanayama, Sophia University, Japan

The transnational corporation is a nationally based company with overseas operations in two or more countries. What distinguishes the transnational media corporation (TNMC) from other types of TNCs, is that the principle product being sold is information and entertainment. The following paper is a case study analysis of the Sony Corporation; a leading TNMC in the production and sale of consumer electronics, music and film entertainment and videogame technology. There are two main parts to this study. Part I. examines the history and development of the Sony Corporation. It builds on the theoretical work of Schein, (1984, 1983), Morley, Shockley-Zalabak (1991) and Gershon (2002, 1997) who argue that the business strategies and corporate culture of a company are often a direct reflection of the person (or persons) who were responsible for developing the organization and its business mission. Second Part examines the Sony Corporation from the standpoint of business strategy. Special attention is given to the subject of organizational culture and strategic decision-making. A second argu- ment of this paper is that while Sony is a TNMC, the organization is decidedly Japanese in its business values. This is beginning to change in the face of global competition and the need to improve business performance. This study combines elements of historical and economic research in approaching the questions under investigation. Primary resource information includes company reports and 10-K filings with

the US Securities Exchange Commission, internal memoranda and other documents pertaining to the management and function of the Sony Corpo-

ration. The most important aspect of the data collection stage were the series of 11 interviews conducted with senior and middle level managers at Sony’s Tokyo headquarters and New York operations.1 This forms the basis for the case study approach as well as supplying subtlety and depth to those portions of the study having to do with strategic planning and new product development. The significance of this research lies in its revelations concerning the complex changes facing a company that was once historically Japanese in its origins but is becoming increasingly transnational in scope and operations.

Abstract The following paper is a case study analysis of the Sony Corporation; a leading transnational media corporation in the production and sale of consumer electronics, music and film entertainment and videogame technology. There are two main parts to this study. Part I. examines the history and development of the Sony Corporation. This paper argues that the business strategies and corporate culture of a company are often a direct reflection of the person (or persons) who were responsible for developing the organization and its business mission. Part II. examines the Sony Corporation from the standpoint of business strategy. Special attention is given to the subject of organizational culture and strategic decision-making. A second argument of this paper is that while Sony is a transnational media corporation, the organization is decidedly Japanese in its business values. The significance of this research lies in its revelations concerning the complex changes facing a company that was once historically Japanese in its origins but is becoming increasingly transnational in scope and operations.

Richard A. Gershon (richard.gershon@wmich.edu) is Professor and co-founder of the Telecommunications Management program at Western Michigan University where he teaches courses in Telecommunications Management, Law and Policy and Communication Technology. Dr. Gershon is the author of Telecommunications Management: Industry Structures and Planning Strategies (2001) and The Transnational Media Corporation: Global Messages and Free...
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