The relationship between technology and competitive advantage: the case of vegetables and animal oils and fats manufacturers in Kenya
Technology by its very nature is significant in determining the level of efficiency of machines and ways of operation of organisations. The business environment is dynamic. Technology is a core competence resource which all modem companies require for their survival and success in business. In order for manufacturing firms to be more competitive than their rivals, there is need for them to invest more in appropriate technology that will put them ahead of their competitors. This study set out to identify the types of core technologies used among Kenyan firms in the vegetables and animal oils and fats manufacturing industry and also to determine whether there is a link between technology and competitive advantage and the factors influencing them. Primary data was collected using closed ended questionnaire from a census of 33 firms. Some of the companies have closed down and only 10 of them responded to the questionnaire. The data was thereafter analysed using percentages, cross tabulations, factor analysis and correlation matrices. The analysis revealed that most of the firms (70%) used both process and product technologies to differentiate their products from those of their competitors; reduce their costs and focus on their customers' needs competitively. The study also established that there is a positive and dynamic link between the technology used and competitive advantage of the firms. Competitive advantage is not only the sum total of intellectual parts of the organisations, it is the speed of technological change. As the pace of innovations, competition and obsolescence increases, the speed of a manufacturing company's new technology adaptation becomes a benchmark challenge for leveraging innovation into success in all industries. Technology and firm competitiveness is about realigning processes. It is about creating value and reducing wastage. It about sustaining a culture 2(continuous improvement and making technology work for the firms, not them working for technology. At the end of it all, rather than being stretched to the limit, the manufacturers s,hall find themselves more relaxed, proud enthusiastic and productive, on top ofthings, and will improve processes again and again, embracing and leveraging change for their benefit rather than dreading it.