Sony’s Corporate Social Responsibility Strategy & Stakeholders

Sony Corporation corporate social responsibility, stakeholders’ interests, stakeholder analysis, electronics and gaming business case study analysis
Sony PlayStation 2 (PS2) video game console, first released in 2000. Sony Corporation has a corporate social responsibility strategy that emphasizes sustainability to fulfill stakeholders’ interests. (Photo: Public Domain)

Sony’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) strategy responds to the interests of relevant stakeholders. In Archie Carroll’s model, corporate social responsibility exists because of the interactions between firms and their stakeholders. A stakeholder is any individual or group that affects and is affected by the business under consideration. In the case of Sony, the concerns underlining the CSR strategy focus on sustainability of the business. The company’s sustainability efforts also lead to the achievement of corporate citizenship. For long-term success in the consumer electronics, gaming, entertainment and financial services markets, Sony Corporation must ensure that stakeholders’ interests are properly accounted for in the business.

This corporate social responsibility (CSR) analysis of Sony Corporation shows the importance of achieving business sustainability. The company considers sustainability as the primary goal in its efforts for satisfying stakeholders’ interests and for corporate citizenship.

Sony’s Stakeholder Groups & CSR Initiatives

The global reach of Sony’s business relates with the complexity of developing a corporate social responsibility strategy that suits a variety of businesses and markets worldwide. Such complexity is based on the fact that the company operates in the consumer electronics, gaming, entertainment and financial services markets. The following are the stakeholders arranged according to Sony’s prioritization in its corporate social responsibility strategy:

  1. Shareholders (Highest priority)
  2. Customers
  3. Employees
  4. Suppliers
  5. Business partners
  6. Local communities (Lowest priority)

Shareholders. Sony’s corporate social responsibility strategy values shareholders as the most significant stakeholder group. High revenues and business growth are the main interests of these stakeholders. Shareholders are significant in business valuation and the availability of capital to support business operations. Sony Corporation addresses the interests of these stakeholders by finding ways to maximize revenues and profitability. For example, the company’s premium pricing strategy ensures high profit margins (Read: Sony’s Marketing Mix (4Ps) Analysis). In addition, the company aims for sustainability, not just for corporate citizenship, but also for optimizing operational efficiency and corresponding financial performance. Thus, Sony’s corporate responsibility strategy fulfills the interests of shareholders as the most prioritized stakeholder group in the business.

Customers. Customers come second in Sony’s prioritization in its corporate social responsibility strategy. The company considers customers as essential in achieving CSR success. These stakeholders are significant because they determine revenues as well as public perception about Sony and its products. Customers are interested in effective products and reasonable pricing. For example, people buy PlayStation consoles despite high prices because they think that the product is highly effective in fulfilling their gaming and entertainment needs. Sony’s corporate social responsibility strategy addresses customers’ interests through innovation. For instance, rapid innovation processes ensure that customers are satisfied with their PlayStation gaming experience. In addition, Sony’s sustainability efforts lead to products that satisfy these stakeholders’ interests in environmental conservation and the corporate citizenship of companies where they buy the products they use. Moreover, the continuing profitability of PlayStation products indicates reasonable pricing. Thus, Sony’s corporate social responsibility approach fulfills the interests of customers as the second most significant stakeholders in the business.

Employees. Sony Corporation achieves its high performance through the support of employees. The company views employees as a major stakeholder group. Employees are significant because they influence Sony’s organizational performance. For example, workers’ productivity directly affects overall organizational productivity. These stakeholders’ interests include competitive compensation and managerial support. To address these interests, Sony’s organizational culture is maintained as support for optimizing employee performance. In addition, the company applies competitive compensation programs to compete in the labor market, where technology firms continually search for the most talented and skilled workers. Sony’s sustainability programs also help optimize employees’ morale. Such programs contribute to employee satisfaction in the company’s employment and corporate citizenship practices. These factors show that Sony’s efforts to fulfill its corporate responsibility satisfy the interests of employees as a major stakeholder group.

Suppliers. Suppliers are stakeholders that influence Sony’s business and corporate social responsibility strategy. The company recognizes these stakeholders’ significance in influencing business operations through adequate supply. Continuing and growing business relations with Sony are the main interests of suppliers. The company addresses these interests through managerial efforts to maximize operational efficiency while supporting suppliers’ effectiveness (Read: Sony’s Operations Management, 10 Strategic Decision Areas & Productivity). These CSR initiatives are designed to help suppliers grow alongside Sony’s growth. Such simultaneous growth is necessary in ensuring the adequacy of supply to support the company’s global growth and expansion. In addition, sustainability programs are applied not just at Sony, but also in suppliers’ operations. For example, the company requires suppliers to satisfy a number of environmental impact requirements. These corporate responsibility requirements benefit the stakeholder group in terms of facilitating suppliers’ improvement in fulfilling their respective corporate social responsibilities. Thus, Sony’s corporate social responsibility programs satisfy the interests of suppliers as a stakeholder group in terms of corporate citizenship and sustainability in the supply chain.

Business Partners. Sony Corporation has business partnerships around the world. For example, the company has deals with telecommunications companies to distribute and promote Xperia smartphones. The significance of such business partners as stakeholders is based on their contribution to Sony’s competitiveness in the global consumer electronics, gaming, entertainment and financial services markets. The interests of these stakeholders include strong and profitable relations with the company. As part of its corporate social responsibility strategy, Sony enters mutually beneficial agreements with these partners. In addition, the company’s corporate citizenship and sustainability status have a positive impact on the corporate image of these business partners. Thus, Sony satisfies the interests of business partners as a stakeholder group through effective corporate social responsibility programs.

Local Communities. Local communities influence Sony’s corporate citizenship in terms of how residents respond as consumers. For example, a favorable relationship between the company and a community typically leads to favorable consumer attitude of the community’s residents toward the company and its products. In addition, this stakeholder group is significant in terms of political pressure that they wield to influence regulatory pressure on Sony. To fulfill corporate responsibilities in this regard, the company must satisfy these stakeholders’ interests, which include business sustainability and support for community development. Sony satisfies these interests through a number of ways. For instance, the company sponsors festivals and sports events in some areas, as part of the marketing mix of the business (Read: Sony’s Marketing Mix (4Ps) Analysis). Such sponsorship helps enhance community relations and facilitate community development. These initiatives show that Sony fulfills its corporate social responsibility based on the interests of local communities as significant stakeholders in the business.

Sony Corporation’s CSR Performance in Addressing Stakeholders’ Interests

With a corporate social responsibility strategy that spans a variety interests and needs among a number of stakeholder groups, Sony maintains focus on attaining sustainability as a central objective for corporate citizenship. Sustainability principles are applied to enhance the business while addressing these stakeholders and their interests. In this regard, Sony has a satisfactory performance in corporate social responsibility. The company also has commendable educational efforts for the arts, culture, technology and the environment. However, these efforts are limited to some countries, such as the U.S.A. and Australia. Thus, a recommendation to improve Sony’s CSR performance is to widen the implementation and reach of such initiatives. For example, the company can expand the same educational programs in developing countries. Such efforts would enhance Sony’s corporate responsibility status, brand image, and effectiveness in satisfying stakeholders’ interests.