The state of strategic management practices in the retailing sector: the case of supermarkets in Nairobi
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This study was conducted with the objective of finding out the state of strategy practices in the retailing sector in Kenya. The focus of the study was supermarkets situated in Nairobi. Developments in strategic management theory and practice have tended to reflect business circumstances in developed country contexts. Some studies have been done to document such practices in Africa. Even then, none of these studies is hased in the retailing sector. This study investigated strategic management practices in the retailing sector. The study had two main objectives. (1) To investigate (establish) the state of strategic management in the retailing sector in Kenya with special reference to supermarkets. (2) To investigate (establish) the use of strategy by these reta\lers, for attaining a competitive edge. t, .• .; To achieve these objectives, primary data was collected. Data was collected through personal interviews with directors or senior managers in the supermarkets. The interviews had both structured and unstructured components. The data were aria Lysed using sijnpLe descriptive statistics. A Mann-Whitney U test was also conducted to test for any statistically significant differences between the various subsamples. During the analysis supermarkets were divided into two ix subsamples, one based on ownership and the other on size. All the supermarkets were analysed together and then each individual group was analysed. Inter-group comparisons were done. The findings did not reveal any significant differences between the various groups. Comparisons were also made with results of a few studies done in Kenya and other countries. Similarities and differences existed between these three sets of studies .. The variations may be explained by sectorial as well as environmental differences. The theoretical advances in strategy development are way ahead of the practice in the retailing sector in Kenya. The findings from this study revealed that supermarkets practised minimal and budgetary forms of strategic management. Most of the supermarkets were run on intuition and they relied on an individual's ability to pursue long-term goals and visions. Most of the activities were informal~,Budgets were used to support operations. '. ,; i One of the main purposes of strategic management is to assist businesses to gain a competitive edge. The supermarkets studied did not appear to be using strategy to gain an edge over their competitors. Almost all the supermarkets appeared to be doing the same thing in the same way. It may not be possible to draw general conclusions due to the limitations of this study. Nevertheless the study provides some insights into strategy practices in the retailing sector in Kenya.