Strategic responses adopted by textbook publishers in Kenya to environmental challenges
Organisations are environment serving and dependent. They operate in an environment that constantly experiences changes and have to monitor the external environment closely enough to know when to respond. They have to know the business well enough to know the kind of changes to initiate. As the effectiveness of a firm is measured by the degree to which the products or services respond to the needs of their consumers and relevant stakeholders, firms must apply appropriate responses as changes occur in the external environment in order to survive. In order to continuously meet the needs of their market, organisations need to identify the challenges that would lead to failure to meet their objectives and respond appropriately by adopting timely strategic responses. The purpose of this study was to establish the strategic responses adopted by textbook publishers in Kenya to the environmental challenges facing them. The objectives were two. First was to establish the environmental challenges experienced by textbook publishers in Kenya. Second was to establish the strategic responses they adopt in response to the environmental challenges. The research design was a cross-sectional survey. The population was all the textbook publishers who are members of KPA. Primary data was collected by use of questionnaires which were administered to the senior administrators of the firms through the drop-and-pick method. In addition to the primary data, the researcher relied on secondary data mainly collected from the firms’ websites and publications. Results of the study indicate that all the firms monitored the external environment for factors necessitating their response. The results also indicate that all the firms responded to the challenges posed by the external environment. Challenges in the external environment included stiff competition, government policies, inconsistent release of funds for free schooling by the government, high cost of printing, a poor reading culture, book piracy, corruption, changes in the curriculum, high cost of credit facilities, lack of competent authors, technological advancements, and high standards by the KICD in approving books into the orange book. Responses that the textbook publishers adopted included aggressive marketing, diversification of publications, entry into regional markets, promotion of a reading culture amongst Kenyans, acquisition of competent authors, competitive tendering to cut costs, outsourcing of non-core services, lobbying the government for favourable legislation, and adoption of technology by digitizing books. Based on the findings of this study, the researcher recommends that the government improves the system of disbursing funds to schools in order to make it more timely and predictable. Given the crucial role that the textbook plays in education, the government should also closely consider the effects of its policies, such as on taxation of school books. It also has a role to play in ensuring that quality of publications is maintained, by enforcing approval of all textbooks by KICD. The publishers currently face very stiff competition amongst themselves as the market is served by many players. This may be addressed by mergers and acquisitions, as well as co-publishing.The researcher faced various limitations in conducting this study The researcher faced various limitations in conducting this study. First, only publishers who are members of KPA were covered, which limits the generalization of the results to the established publishers only. The second limitation arose from the data collection method that was used, as only questionnaires were used due to the limited time.