Strategies adopted by the University of Nairobi to achieve sustainable competitive advantage
Today’s business environment has become turbulent and very competitive. Very few organizations are able to sustain their competitiveness in the long due to the unpredictability of the environment. It has become therefore very important for all organizations to find ways, in which they can survive and sustain the competitiveness in the long run. Organizations need to consistently scan the environment, both external and internal in order to ascertain whether they are still relevant in spite of the changes and stiff competition. They are likewise required to take corrective action regularly to remain competitive. It is therefore necessary for all organizations to adopt strategic management in order to address the challenges posed by the environment. Strategic management entails the formulation and implementation of strategies that fit the organization’s internal capabilities to the external environment hence remain vibrant and competitive in their respective industries thereby gaining sustainable competitive advantage. The study sought to establish the strategies adopted by the University of Nairobi to achieve sustainable competitive advantage in the education sector. The study was carried out at a time when the education sector in Kenya and especially higher education was experiencing many challenges than was the case in the past. Major challenges experienced include dwindling financial support from the Government and other sponsors, high demand for higher education with only 20% of the qualified candidates securing places in the public universities, competition from local and international institutions, lobbying by staff unions for better packages and the perceived declining quality of education caused by the increasing unemployment rate among other challenges. Data was collected by use of an interview guide. The researcher interviewed heads of departments and units of the University of Nairobi since they were the key decision makers. The findings of the study established that the University of Nairobi had a strategic plan which was reviewed after every five years and had developed and was continuously implementing distinctive strategies that ensured the University of Nairobi met the strategic issues as formulated in that strategic plan. For effective implementation of these strategies the University of Nairobi utilized distinctive capabilities that it had built over time. These capabilities included offering quality education and research, having an ideal strategic location in the capital city, hiring and retention of competent human resources, development of unique and diverse programmes among others. The study established that no single strategy could ensure achievement of sustainable competitive advantage in a turbulent and challenging environment. It was also evident from the study that strategies adopted were unique for each situation and between different organizations and hence it was necessary to keep realigning the organizational strategies with environmental conditions. The University of Nairobi has been carrying out a regular review of its strategies by analyzing the challenges it is facing in the environment. The study revealed that the strategies that UoN has continuously adopted have largely focused on differentiating itself from the other institutions. The continued use of differentiation strategies by UoN was seen to be a key contributor of its continued success. In conclusion therefore it was evident from the study that the University of Nairobi has continued to adopt competitive strategies that have mainly been on differentiating its products and services thereby sustaining its competitiveness. The continued use of these competitive strategies while continuously addressing the challenges posed by the external environment will eventually lead to sustainable competitive advantage by The University of Nairobi in the future.