Competitive strategies adopted by catholic secondary schools to gain competitive advantage in the archdiocese of Nairobi, Kenya
Parents, family and society want the best for their children. Education is a key pillar of a successful and bright future as it empowers the individual and enables him or her to achieve independence. However it should not be only about success in national examinations. Since parents may not have total control of their children when they are in the school going age, they seek the best school for them. Kenyan schools operate in a competitive environment. The ones that achieve high performance are well respected and students will normally compete for admission because good grades mean better career choices in future. It is therefore important for the administrators of similar schools and educational policy makers to learn the strategies employed by these schools. Catholic secondary schools meet the expectations of parents not only in academic success but also the content of character that the children will have after they are out of school.In addition the schools are also competing to attract both parents and students by striving to achieve higher academic performance and overall school rankings. To compete effectively the organization should formulate competitive strategies that will enable it achieve competitive advantage. Competitive strategies include differentiation, cost leadership, focus, collaborative strategy and resource based strategy. The Government of Kenya has education as one of the pillars in the Vision 2030.The introduction of free primary education led to an increased number of students graduating from primary school seeking secondary education. Consequently an increased number of secondary schools have been established to sustain the high demand leading to competition. The state and nature of competition is determined by the five forces. The strongest competitive force determines the profitability of an industry. This becomes the most important force to consider when formulating strategy. Since the purpose of competing is to achieve better and superior performance than rivals, organizations will always seek to be the best. The organization will achieve competitive advantage or that edge over competitors when it copes with the five competitive forces and attracts buyers. The objective of this study was to find out the strategies employed by catholic schools sponsored by the Catholic Archdiocese of Nairobi. A survey was carried out on the 20 schools that are sponsored by the archdiocese and it was found out that differentiation, collaborative strategies, discipline and value based education system are some of the strategies that are employed by these schools in order to achieve the high performance that they are associated with. It was concluded that integration of Catholic religion plays a unique role and most catholic secondary schools have widely adopted differentiation and collaborative strategy to gain competitive advantage. The schools have used their unique nature of character and moral development of students to distinguish themselves from other schools. The schools also form collaborative partnerships with other schools to share ideas on winning strategies.Thus these competitive strategies adopted have enabled them achieve competitive advantage over rivals which in turn has led to superior academic performance and school rankings and ultimately the expectations of parents and students are met. The study is based on three theories namely game theory, resource based view and stakeholder theory.