The 4 Structural Continuums of Sony
Standardization versus mutual adjustment
Mechanistic structure versus organic structure
Centralized Versus Decentralized
Tall organization versus flat organization
Both the engineering and design function of Sony operated in a more traditional mechanistic structure prior to the cultural change.
The company’s hiring practices preferred graduates from prestigious Japanese universities. This practice leads to “groupthink” (Quintane & Mol, 2007), which in a mechanistic structure would be preferred.
As designers were seen as “cultural intermediaries”, they became the drivers for diversity and entrepreneurial independent behavior (Quintane & Mol, 2007).
Mechanistic vs. Organic
In contrast, the design function, which only grew as Sony ventured into the music industry, operated under a much more organic structure.
Tall vs. Flat
While Sony held the design function in higher regard (Quintane & Mol, 2007), the engineering function would have faced many levels between itself and the “higher echelons” of management (Quintane & Mol, 2007).
In contrast the hierarchy in the design function was flat with designers having direct access to many of the most senior managers at Sony.
The promotion of many designers into senior management positions demonstrates this flatter hierarchy.
The engineering function of Sony faced a taller structure in comparison to the design function, which was much flatter.
According to Quintane & Mol (2007), Sony regarded designers as a channel to distinct markets and delegated them with freedom and authority in making decisions nearer to the customers.
This implies decentralised decision-making by the designers.
It was organised the conventional Sony way whereby, a Sony executive admits, collaborative decision-making was a mere facade to create unanimity for a decision made by higher management (Quintane & Mol, 2007).
Centralized vs. Decentralized
Meanwhile, centralised decision-making existed in the engineering function.
Standardization vs. mutual adjustment
The engineering sector was standardized in their operations.
Contrasting this, the design function had a mutual adjustment structure.
This can be seen in Sony’s modern hierarchy involving the designers to make choices according to their surroundings as opposed to implementing set rules (Mukhopadhyay, 2006).
The engineering function operated in a traditionally rigid and certain setting, for example, “having specifically designed job development programs for new employees,” as addressed by Quintane & Mol (2007).