Strategic responses adopted by Tana and Athi rivers development authority to the turbulent external environment in Kenya
The environment under which organizations operate is constantly changing due to the turbulent external environment which directly or indirect affect the operations and the long-term direction of the organization. The objective of this study was to establish strategic responses which Tana and Athi Rivers Development Authority had adopted to manage the turbulent external environment. Data was collected and analyzed from 4 Chief Managers, 5 Senior managers, 3 Project managers and 2 regional managers which was 88 % response rate. TARDA had not put sufficient systems in place to monitor changes in the external environment. The response to changes has remained a challenge which makes projects unsuccessful. Findings showed that Majority of the managers were between 41 and 60 years, this translated to 79% of the total respondents. Although old management meant enough experience to handle management matters, lack of young managers means there are no progressive management plan. Many of the managers had served in management positions for sufficient time to understand recurring turbulent external forces in the external environment. 64% of the management had attained at least one undergraduate degree with 35% of the entire management with a post graduate degree. The study confirmed that TARDA had a documented strategic plan. The choosiness or selectivity of the strategic plan implementation was done based on region or project diversity whether horticulture, ecotourism or ranching. The key strategies were; Strategic Alliances, Joint ventures and Partnerships. The generic strategies used were Cost Leadership, Cost focus and Diversification. The external influences facing TARDA were: - Various Acts of Parliament conflicting with the TARDA Act, Inadequate funding from the Exchequer, Encroachment on TARDA’s assets by other State agencies, Devolved System (county Governments), Community (little good will), Inter-ethnic clashes and Community dynamics, Competitors (overlapping mandate), political influence, climatic change and Security threats such as terrorism among others Economic influences were the main factors influencing operations followed by Political influence with technological influence influences rated as the least influential. The financial effects were increased costs of operations in the organization and high production cost. The non-financial effects were poor customer satisfaction, Poor Public Relation and low staff morale leading to skilled staff turnover. It was recommended that the organizations management institute measures in ensuring continuity with mentorship and career development programs to train young managers. Also the top management should come up with lasting solutions for others sources of funding other than the government. Follow up programmes and feedback would make economic sense if well monitored, evaluated and controlled to achieve the intended objective. The study was to have positive implication on how the Government policy makers in the ministry of environment, water and natural resources in developing programs for RDAs. It was as well giving positive contribution to the Strategic Management literature by focusing on the relationship challenges posed by turbulent external environment and the strategies adopted to counter them. The study validates the environment-dependence theory and Resource Based Theories of competitive advantage to explain strategic management. Management practices for organizations in Kenya were to benefit by incorporating the recommendation in this study.