Sony Case Study
International Business Strategy
Case Study: Sony: managing the international R&D network
1. How did Sony internationalize its R&D activities?
Sony started to internationalize its activities in the 1950’s. For this, it used an incremental and cautious way. They followed the Morita’s strategy which is: first to learn about the market, to learn how to sell to it and to build up its corporate confidence before to commit itself. He also says that when you have confidence, you should commit yourself wholeheartedly. So Sony started by exporting products through foreign agencies or its own sales offices when entering foreign markets. The manufacturing plants close to markets where sales …show more content…
The second motivation could be called access to advanced knowledge. Then internal coordination between R&D labs had to be increased to improve efficiency and to create synergies (efficiency and synergies). Coordination had become an important motivation for internationalizing R&D while autonomy was kept by local R&D centers in order to adapt to local requirements.
3. Why did Sony feel the need to internationalize its R&D activities in the late 1980s and early 1990s?
First Sony overseas production accounted for 30% of Sony’s total production and foreign sales represented 70% of Sony’s sales. So there was clearly a need to increase the fraction of Sony’s international R&D which represented a too small fraction of Sony’s total R&D. There was also the need to keep on developing products locally in order to meet local needs and requirements. Sony also felt that some parts of the countries could use more advanced technologies than others. There was then a need to allow R&D centers from countries that were less technologically advanced to enjoy the advanced knowledge gained in other countries in order to remain at the cutting edge of technology.
4. How did Sony manage its overseas R&D activities? How did the managerial approach evolve over time?
As we’ve already said before, R&D centers were set up by Japanese divisions or by foreign subsidiaries and managers of these centers were given substantial autonomy. Actually