The concepts of power, politics, and culture are inseparable concepts that have been in existence since time immemorial. Power and politics have dominated the social, economic and political arena of normal human life and has in numerous intricate ways shaped contemporary human culture. The phenomenon of politics, power, and culture has infiltrated into the modern business environment and is a key determinant of a company’s level of success. Sony Corporation is a multi-billion business conglomerate that is based on the concept of niche marketing. Founded on the concept of niche marketing Sony Corporation is structured into separate and distinct departmental blocks, silos, whose operations are independent and sequestered. Sony Corporation’s organizational concept of niche marketing has instigated a silo effect that has hampered productivity levels of the corporation due to incessant power plays between departments.
Influence of Politics and Power
Politics determine who gets into power and power shapes culture. Therefore, the three concepts of power, politics, and culture go hand in hand. According to Clement (1994), politics entails the struggle for positions of power and influence within a society or an organization. Politics is the tool by which people ascend to power and can dominate or lead others. Politics is also largely used by an individual or a group for purposes of achieving individual or group selfish interests (Clement, 1994). Unlike politics, power has numerous definitions. According to Max Weber power is the probability that an individual or a group will execute their own will despite resistance from others (Tett, 2015). Power is also defined as the ability of a person or a group of persons to influence other people’s behavior and how they respond to given stimuli and impulses (Tett, 2015). Culture is defined as the ideas, customs, and behaviors of a particular person, society or organization. Organizational culture includes the values, behavior, principles upon which an organization is founded and is expressed through its staff, inner workings and output.
Sony Corporation is based on the organizational culture of niche marketing. Niche marketing is a marketing strategy that focuses on a unique target market. According to Tett (2015), niche marketing involves a company identifying a specialized segment of the market for its goods and then focusing its product promotion strategy on how to maximize its sales to that specific market segment. Sony Corporation deals with numerous divergent products ranging from electronics, entertainment, and finance to electric vehicle production. To maximize the output and revenue from these numerous products Sony Corporation is organized into separate departments that deal with distinct niche markets. Every department under the Sony Corporation is a distinct and separate entity operating independently without sharing information or policies with other departments. The numerous distinct and independent departments within the Sony Corporation have led to the silo effect where each department works independently thereby leading to organizational dysfunction. Tett (2015) asserts that politics and power-play are ubiquitous in companies that employ the use of independent departments in their organizational structure. The silo effect is perpetuated and acerbated by the intricate politicking and power-plays that exists among divergent departments within an organization. The silo effect creates a scenario where each department seeks to be the best department and this sparks a power-play between the departments much to the disadvantage and dysfunction of the entire organization (Tett, 2015). The power-play and cheap politics between departments hinders the sharing of information, fiscal policies and technical know-how among the departments thus instigating tension among departments. Moreover, when not controlled inter-departmental power-play may have negative effects on the productivity levels of a company’s workforce. The intricate and deleterious power-play between departments in the Sony Corporation has largely influenced the company’s organizational culture of departmental independence and affected the productivity levels of the company’s workforce.
Sources of Power
There are various sources of power in an organization. The most basic source of power is the office or structural power which is based on the office one holds in the organizational structure of a company. A good example of structural power is the power wielded by a company CEO by virtue of being at the top of a company’s organizational structure. The second source of power is personal characteristics. According to Weber, the personal attribute of charisma is a source of power in an organization as charisma can be used to build and maintain influence (Clement, 1994). Expertise is also another source of power in an organization and it refers to the specialized skills and know-how that individuals bring to the organization. Experts control specialized skills and information and this gives them more power and influence in an organization compared to the average worker.
Sony Corporation can use the above information, about the sources of organizational power, to regulate the inter-departmental power-play and politicking that currently threaten to derail the company from achieving its set objectives. Currently, the organizational setting of Sony Corporation allows for inter-departmental politics and power-play and this has instigated the silo effect that is a key contributor to organizational dysfunction. Thus, Sony Corporation should eliminate the independent and divergent departments and unifying its different operations under a singular organizational structure that is based on bureaucracy. According to Max Weber, the bureaucratic model of organization is based on a hierarchy of responsibility and duties. Therefore, organizational power is sourced from the office or the company’s structure (Clement, 1994). This will reduce the tensions between departments and the incessant power-play and politicking that is threatening to tear apart Sony Corporation.
Leadership Behavior and Culture
The study of power and politics can greatly influence leadership behavior and improve organizational culture. The study of organizational power and politics enables a company’s leadership to understand the political structures of an organization. I recommend that Sony Corporation’s leaders should learn about the political structures of their organization to enable them to make adept decisions with regard to power distributions within the organizational structure of Sony Corporation. Power distribution is quite important in the modern corporate world as it affects staff morale and output and the general organizational life hence can be used to reduce inter-departmental fighting and power-play. The study of power and politics is important as it enables leaders to understand the role of power in modern corporate management. In this regard, Sony Corporation’s leaders should learn about the important role power plays in leadership with regard to decision-making and influence within an organization. Power is what gives validity and legitimacy to leadership as persons who wield no power is not a leader (Clement, 1994). By espousing powerful leadership, the management of Sony Corporation can marshal the entire workforce of the company to work hard to achieve the set goals and objectives of the company.
The issue with Sony Corporation is the silo effect emanating from the inter-departmental tensions within the company and that causes dysfunction in the smooth operation of the company. The only solution to the silo effect problem lies in the elimination of the niche marketing based organizational structure upon which Sony Corporation is currently organized. Upon the elimination of the department based organizational structure the company needs to be re-organized per the bureaucratic organizational structure model which is hierarchy based. The restructuring of Sony Corporation entails massive change and will require a strong leadership team with massive influence within the organization. Proper leadership behavior exhibited by the top leadership of Sony Corporation is what will ensure a smooth transition phase as the company re-organizes its organizational structure. The top management of Sony Corporation has to embrace inclusivity, an open-door management policy, and coalition building to ensure that the previous rivalry between departments is weeded out from the company. The Sony Corporation leaders will have to come up with a change strategy that incorporates the input of all the staff of the company. Moreover, the leadership will have to ensure that every decision they take is communicated to the staff to ensure harmony in the operations of the company. Proper leadership behavior will ensure Sony Corporation harmoniously change its organizational structure and culture and improve the productivity of the company’s workforce.
Sony Corporation is currently facing productivity issues with staff morale at its lowest. The problems facing Sony Corporation can be traced back to the organizational structure of the company that promotes inter-departmental rivalry and power-play. Sony Corporation has to re-organize its organizational structure into a bureaucratic model to minimize the deleterious effects of organizational power and politics that currently threatens to tear apart the company.
Clement, R. W. (1994). Culture, leadership, and power: The keys to organizational change. Business Horizons, 37(1), 33-40.
Tett, G. (2015). The silo effect: The peril of expertise and the promise of breaking down barriers. Simon and Schuster.