A survey of competitive strategies used by reproductive health organizations to cope with increased competition in the private sector
Health facilities providing reproductive heath services in the private sector in Kenya have witnessed dramatic changes as a result of services being offered by all Ministry of Health hospitals in every district at affordable prices. This has impacted significantly on the state of competition. For enterprises to survive this stiff competition, it has been necessary to develop competitive strategies to enable them achieve a competitive advantage over their competitors. This study therefore sought to establish and document the various competitive strategies being adopted by reproductive health organization to cope with increased competition in the reproductive health sector. The study also sought to determine the challenges faced by these reproductive health organizations as they apply the competitive strategies. The study focused on 20 health facilities offering reproductive health services in Kenya that had been sampled; only 15 responded positively to the study. Data was collected through questionnaire method. Questionnaires were administered through personal interviews and drop and pick method. Drop and pick method was used where the target respondents were not easily available. On one hand differentiation strategy was apparent with most of the organizations but some had deliberate attempts to adapt cost leadership strategy. From the analysis it was established that the reproductive health organizations used generic strategies in an attempt to gain competitive advantage. Differentiation strategy had a mean score of 4.1 and cost leadership had 4.3. These mean scores for these strategies did not vary significantly. It shows that these strategies were uniformly used by most organizations within the reproductive health organizations. There are several challenges that face the reproductive health organizations in their attempt to apply these generic strategies. Research findings show that the major challenges faced by these organizations are: imitation by other reproductive health organizations offering similar services, high competition especially from individuals opening clinics in residential areas, rapid changes in family planning methods being used, global influences, increase in the number of organizations offering reproductive health services and huge capital outlays were some of the challenges faced by organizations in the sector. The government needs to put in place a comprehensive research policy through the Ministry of Health. This policy would seek to find out the extent to which the reproductive health organizations adhere to the Ministry of health regulations as the study indicates a large number of local organizations are opening up and imitating the services being provided by other reproductive health organizations. This has implication on the quality of services provided, by reproductive health organizations.