Responses by commercial banks in Kenya to increased competition
The environment is constantly changing. Organizations have to proactively or continuously adapt their operations in order to survive the environmental challenges. The environment presents firms with opportunities, threats and constraints, but rarely does a single firm exert any meaningful reciprocal influence. The liberalization of the economy, privatization, increased competition and the general economic reforms in all sectors are some of these changes in the operating environment. The environment is highly dynamic and continuously presents opportunities and challenges. To ensure survival and success, firms need to develop capability to manage threats and exploit emerging opportunities promptly. Strategies that match capabilities to environment are required. The objectives of the study were to identify the challenges faced by commercial banks to increased competition and to establish the strategic responses of Commercial banks in Kenya to increased competition. Responding to the changes in the environment. The study employed survey design in addressing the challenges and responses to the increased competition. To satisfy these objectives data was collected from thirty three selected commercial banks in Nairobi and from each bank two managers in general managers department and human resource or marketing department were targeted as the principal respondents. A self administered questionnaire was used as major tools of data collection. The aim of the questionnaire was to capture data on challenges in the banking industry, strategic responses adopted by commercial banks and managers opinion on intensity of competition within commercial banks in Kenya. The study revealed that, commercial banks are faced with many challenges and liberalization was taken to be the challenge that is a threat to the industry. In this study, Information Technology appears to be a strategic move by the banks to lay a basis for offering services geared towards facilitating emerging trends in trade such as E-commerce. The results of this study tally with the findings of Gathoga (2001) that the commercial banks are in competition and their products and services differential is quite thin hence need for restructuring. Strategic marketing variables are manipulated by commercial banks to respond to a competitive intensity in the banking sector. These include; developing new products, and market development and market focus. Further the study revealed that branding of corporate building had a mean score of 3.65 and nature of internal communication were most notable changes relating to corporate culture most effected in commercial banks. Schein (1985) concludes that successful organizations must be able, not only to deliver a high level of customer service, but also manage cultural change The study was limited to a number of factors such as the sample size limited to sixty six commercial banks. The scope and depth of study was also limited by the time factor and financial resource constraints. The researcher also encountered immense problems with the respondents' unwil1ingess to complete the questionnaires promptly. The study recommended further research to be carried out to establish the competitive strategies adopted by the micro finance institutions.