Business Policy & Strategy: Challenges and Trends

Introduction

The world is increasingly becoming competitive due to various environmental changes. Technology has reduced the world into a global village and with it has come several advantages to business units, especially due to the creation of a borderless market. However, this has come at a cost. Firms are forced to deal with a highly competitive market where a lack of proper business strategy would possibly result in a business failure. A business unit can only survive in this competitive market if it can develop business policies and strategies that can help it gain a competitive advantage in the market. Kratschmer (2011) defines business policy as “The scope or spheres within which decisions can be taken by the subordinates in an organization.” It helps define organizational culture within a firm. It also helps in defining the relationship between the management and employees, and among employees themselves.

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According to Gröschl (2011), for a firm to succeed in the current competitive market, it should develop business strategies that are conscious of environmental factors. This research is going to focus on how firms can succeed by developing appropriate business policies and strategies in the current market. For a firm to succeed in the market, it should be able to develop a competitive advantage over other firms. It is very difficult for a firm to have a permanent competitive advantage over other firms in the market. It is for this reason that a firm would be required to develop new strategies as often as possible to ensure that it constantly remains a step ahead of market competition. A firm that fails to develop competitive business strategies may risk being faced out of the market by more versatile firms. This research will focus on business policy and strategy and their importance to firms in the current competitive market.

Trends on Business Policy and Strategy

The business world is constantly changing with the changes that take place in various sectors, especially due to changes brought about by emerging technologies. This has resulted in emergent new trends in the market. As these trends change, so does several factors within a business organization. For this reason, a business unit needs to develop strategies that would reflect on the changes taking place in the external environment. The trends in business policy and strategy demonstrate that firms must be able to develop a culture that embraces environmental dynamism. It is through this that a firm can change with the changes in environmental factors. This flexibility is the only way that a firm can adapt to the emerging trends in the market. to understand these trends, the researcher will focus on challenges faced in running business units, diversity in the workplace, and human resource issues.

Challenges Faced by Businesspeople

According to Hooley (2008), the business world has become very challenging and only the best-managed firms can overcome these challenges. The world has been reduced into a global village where geographical boundaries have been eliminated. Given the advancements brought about by technology, transport and communication have been made easier. For this reason, business units can easily operate in any location around the world. This is considered an advantage, but it also comes with consequences. The main challenge that firms are facing currently is because of this globalization, and this is the challenge of increasing competition in the market. There are various challenges that this paper focuses on under various categories. For a firm to be able to manage these challenges there must be a clear mechanism through which its management can use to counter them successfully. Various scholars have stated that although globalization is one of the key pillars of trade, it comes at a cost to the businesspeople.

It creates an environment of competition where only the best firms can sustain themselves. Firms without this capacity are always thrown out of the market as soon as the competition gets out of their reach. This explains the reason why many firms around the world are forced to close down before celebrating their first anniversary. Another factor that offers firms both a competitive advantage and a challenge at the same time is technology. Technology has become one of the defining factors in the normal operations of business units. Technology has been the main driver of globalization, and many firms have managed to conquer the world market because of it. However, firms are constantly under pressure to master the trends taken by emerging technologies. The emerging technologies have posed serious challenges to both the new and the established firms in developing business strategies. To develop a proper business strategy, a firm should develop appropriate technology that would enable it to gain a competitive advantage. Given the dynamic trends taken by the emerging technologies, it has forced firms to master the trends taken by these technologies to remain competitive in the market.

According to Daft (2009), businesspersons always hope to achieve a dream position with their business, and this is why they develop visions for their businesses. A vision is an ideal position, in the eyes of business owners, where a business unit should be after some time to consider it successful. Actualization may not be a simple process. Business units always struggle to actualize their visions, but very few would always manage to achieve this. Actualization refers to the process of achieving the desired position with the business. It is the stage where a business unit will consider itself to have achieved all its planned targets and that a business operates in line with the vision of its owners. Very few executives always achieve this actualization stage. Most of them always have their vision killed along the way due to the increasing competitiveness of the market amongst other challenges. It is only by managing the challenges that a firm can succeed in actualizing its vision. This would start by identifying the challenges and then devising plans on how to counter these challenges successfully. Business units, through their owners and the managers, must appreciate the fact that these challenges can be turned into success factors. This way, and with a dedicated workforce and enough resources, success can be actualized within the desired period.

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The challenges that firms face in the environment can broadly be categorized as internal problems and external problems. Internal problems may include such factors as managing the workforce, development of working business strategies, and enough financial base. Analysis of the external problems can be done using PESTEL Analysis. This involves the analysis of political, economic, social, technological, environmental, and legal environments. Lack of political stability would mean that various businesses are not in a position to conduct business normally. Some may even be forced out of the market with huge losses in case the instability is accompanied by looting and arson.

Various firms around the world have been faced with the economic recession that hit various countries in the world, especially the US economy that had a direct effect on various economies in various other nations. This had serious negative effects on firms’ revenues as many of the customers considered some of the products as non-basic. When the economy of a country is on a decline, the purchasing power is reduced, and this reduces the viability of various businesses. They will be forced to cut down their operation levels, as the market will have a reduced capacity to sustain them. During such times, weak firms are always faced out of the market.

The socio-cultural environment of this country is diversified. This is because this country has people from all over the world. There are those countries that cherish equality, and women have equal economic strength just like men. However, it is important to note that some cultural practices inhibit the development of some business units. For instance, some religions prohibit the eating of meat and its products. This means that business units operating in this industry cannot prosper in a region where such religion is widely practiced.

It is coming out clearly that businesspersons are faced with several challenges in the market. They are forced to work in an increasingly competitive market full of new challenges that have to be dealt with. These challenges can be categorized as internal or external problems. Internal problems can be solved using internal strategies that can help in their manipulation. The external problems will require a business unit to adapt to them because they are not easily manipulated. Competition is one of the main challenges that firms are facing in the market today. As stated in the section above, coping with the competition will require the firm to take a positive approach to manage it. A businessperson should consider competition as a force that will help it climb higher levels and increase its efficiency, other than viewing it as a source of its possible downfall.

Diversity in the Work Place

The workplace is increasingly becoming diversified due to the globalization that is being witnessed. Diversity in the workplace can be considered from various points of view based on various demographical classes. This may include such factors as age, religion, gender, social status, and race among others. Diversity in the workplace has been an issue in the recent past. This is because of the changes that are brought by the changing social structure. Women are no longer housekeepers as they have entered the corporate world with a lot of force. There is a need for the members of society to appreciate the new role women have taken. With globalization on the rise, people of different religions, races, and ages find themselves working in the same place. For them to work in a harmonious environment there is a need to ensure that everyone respects the other irrespective of the demographical differences that may exist. This research will focus on the diversity at the workplace in the contemporary world.

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In this study, the researcher is focusing on how employees can deal with increasing diversity in the workplace and social life. In the current world, business units find themselves in situations where they cannot avoid diversity. The world society is already diversified. The environment within a business unit is always a reflection of the societal environment. This is because employees that work within a firm are always sourced from society. To be in a position to work efficiently, it is important to find a way of ensuring that the difference that exists between various demographic groups are not allowed to create division within the workplace. Irrespective of age, gender, race, religion, or any other social group, it is important to work as a unit for success to be realized. This is the focus of this research. The research will analyze some of the contemporary measures that have been put in place by various bodies to help manage this diversity.

Diversity in the workplace is an evolutionary process that has been propelled by several variables. Some of the variables that contribute to this evolution are discussed in this section. Technology is one of the leading factors that have contributed to the evolution of the workforce. Technology has redefined various roles within an organization. Communication has been improved, and with the invention of sophisticated machines, it is now possible for a firm to employ a limited number of employees but with roles that are closely intertwined. This means that such employees must be able to work as a unit irrespective of their origin. There must be an understanding between employees of different races, religions, ages, or gender.

Increasing demand for skilled workers is another variable. The world population is constantly on the rise. However, this increasing population does not have a proportionate increase in the number of skilled labor that is available in the job market. According to Riggio (2007), firms have limited skilled labor to undertake various duties despite the higher population in various countries around the world. As such, the markets for these employees have become tighter as firms struggle to recruit and retain the best workforce in the market. This has forced some firms to source for the skilled workforce from other countries, making the organizational environment diversified.

The social media effect is another variable that has affected heavily the increasing diversity of the workforce in the current market. When it started, Gröschl (2011) says that social media was considered a tool for communication for the youths. However, this has changed over the years. Social media is currently considered one of the most important tools in managing the workforce. Through social media, people can share their experiences and this has encouraged many individuals to improve their skills. The changing social structure of various societies: women are finding their way into the corporate world. This is another variable because it has a direct effect on the output of the workforce. Various non-governmental organizations and human rights groups have come out strongly to fight for the rights of women in the workplace.

The changing nature of the workplace is bringing new complexities both to firms and to the employees. According to Griffin (2012), individuals who have advanced ages head various organizations. They have conformed to the traditional way of life. Therefore, they are rigid to some of the changes that take place in the external environment. However, the workforce is constantly changing. Gröschl (2011) says that new employees who entered into the business within the last five years exhibit different adaptive features from those who have stayed within the job market for over ten years. These employees come to the job market with fresh ideas. They have skills in telecommunication and are very flexible to changes in the environment.

This scholar notes that industrial and organizational psychologists have a huge task of trying to reconcile these two contrasting personalities. While the older generation prefers the status quo, and resent radical changes that may radically redefine their roles within the organization, the younger generation is vibrant is always trying new things that will make their tasks less repetitive. They are against the status quo, and as Griffin (2012) describes, this group is restless and very ambitious. The two divides must be brought together to ensure that there is cohesion within an organization. The aging populace may not be able to understand these changes taking place within the workplace. The younger population may not understand the reason why the aging population prefers to maintain the status quo. This may lead to serious disharmony within the firm, which can cause a serious challenge to the objectives of the firm.

It is important to ensure that every member of the organization appreciates workplace diversity. The emerging technologies have eliminated the boundaries that existed before. This has seen workplaces increasingly becoming diversified. As a way of ensuring that workers respect each other in the workplace, employees and the employer must embrace this diversity and consider it as an opportunity to perform various tasks in a better way, other than a dividing factor within the workplace.

Human Resource Management

Human resource management has gained a lot of attention among researchers in the recent past. The world has been reduced into a small village due to technological advancements. Technological advancements, especially in the field of transport and communication have had a massive effect on human resources. Human resources can, therefore, move from one geographical location to another with a lot of ease. The improved communication system has also brought about scenarios where a firm can employ individuals who are miles away from the company. It is currently a common phenomenon to find a situation where an Australian company employs an Indian as a customer service officer who receives calls and gives direction to customers on phone. This has resulted in what is popularly referred to as international human resource management. There is a need to manage employees beyond the borders. This is especially so when it comes to globalized firms, which have operations going beyond the borders of the parent country.

The world is experiencing radical changes in the labor environment. International human resource management globally is an area that is vital and requires special attention for it is the backbone of all sectors of the economy of any given country. Managing employees in this century need an understanding of various societal factors within the organization. It is important to understand the different social settings of different employees to be able to understand their behavior within the organization. Understanding organizational behavior is the key to having employees working as a unit.

Studies touching on human resource development suggest that most employees are often dissatisfied in their places of work because of certain reasons. Dissatisfied employees would always offer poor services that would interfere with organizational goals and objectives. In this regard, it is upon the human resource manager to ensure that everything is put in place to ensure that employees are satisfied. If the management fails to engage employees in decision-making, there would be reported cases of employee turnover, poor service delivery, impaired productivity, and low profits. Companies run by families have strong employee relationships as compared to those run by several individual investors.

For a long time, labor has not been given its rightful position in many organizations. Many of the management units have not thought of viewing their employees as very important assets. However, the happenings of the recent past have proven that the labor force is one of the most important assets to any given organization. When the management lays down objectives to be achieved, the employees are expected to implement the policies that would bring the desired results. The workforce would be expected to turn the policies from paper to reality (Coulter, 2009). Therefore, the retention of employees is very important.

Employees should be retained within the organization to ensure that the firm’s operations are consistent. The high turnover rate of employees is not healthy for the firm’s prosperity. This is because it does not only affect the smooth implementation of policies within the firm but also leads to increased cost of training new employees. It is even worse than the employees would go away having learned the strategies of the firm, making the firm vulnerable to its competitors. The management should therefore devise methods of hiring qualified employees and retaining them within the firm. One of the best ways to achieve this is through motivation. It is through motivation that employees will feel attached to the firm and therefore feel committed to the firm. Motivation is very important in human resource management.

Using Policies and Strategies in Competitive World

Ethics-how it can be integrated into Life

Ethics is one of the defining factors in both the corporate world and society in general. Ethics is the seam that holds the society in place. Ethics comes on fronts. According to Rollin (2006), ethics can be defined from many fronts. In management, ethics is defined as the art of doing what is right, in the right place, in the right manner, and at the right time with the right people. Ethics in management is very important in ensuring that the workplace is full of trust and that every individual within the firm is working within the limits. Ethical behavior is very important at every level of management. When the top management fails to act ethically, then there will be a rebellious thought among the junior workers who would have a reason to believe that their rights within the firm are compromised. In life, ethics is the very core success factor of various individuals and a source of respect to many. Unethical behavior has been known to bring down even mighty leaders and prosperous organizations. This research will analyze ethics, as well as how it can be integrated into life.

Various scholars in different contexts, but with a similar ultimate meaning have defined ethics. Ethical behavior is what defines a character. The field of ethics can be very broad, given that it defines how different professionals should behave while on their duties. However, one factor comes out clearly in these definitions. This fact is that ethics revolves around the personal character of an individual. The ethical behavior of a person, as an individual and as an officeholder is very important in defining the world as a safe place where people can live in harmony. In this study, the researcher will analyze ethics from two main fronts. The first front of the analysis will be based on an individual level and the capacity of a person as an officeholder. The research will analyze the benefits of being ethical, as well as how one can ensure that character is maintained by maintaining ethical behavior. The research will also give the consequences of lack of ethics in the life of an individual and within an organization.

Ethics can be actualized when the world is turned into a place where everyone does what is right in the right manner and within the right time and with the right people. According to Rollin (2006), having achieving ethics in society requires every member of the society to lead an ideal life. However, this scholar says that having an ideal situation can only remain a dream because the human being is not perfect. However, there is the conscience that would always dictate whether what one is doing is right or not. A person should always follow this conscience and try to do that which is right always. This is because every moment one engages in an unethical behavior the consequence is that the individual will be hurting another individual. Having a society where ethics is actualized is only possible when every member of the society or organization decides to behave ethically. For an organization to succeed there must be a common force applied by all members towards the same direction and with a similar purpose, which is a success. This is only possible when every member of the organization feels that he or she is respected within the organization and that everything is done in a just manner and with concern for all. This is the very foundation of ethics.

Analyzing ethics from an individual level would involve analyzing the character of a person from a societal perspective. Society is made up of various individuals with different ways of thinking unique to themselves. However, society can only be harmonious if every member of the society ensures that his or her activities do not interfere with the freedom of others. It is because of the need to have a harmonious society that laws are always made. The law is expected to protect individuals from aggression from others. The bottom line of coming up with these laws is always to ensure that the behavior of an individual is regulated within the levels where it does not interfere with the other members of society. The freedom that one enjoys must always be within the limits that would ensure that the rights of others are not violated. It is, therefore, the responsibility of every member of society to behave ethically all the time. Based on the definition given above, ethics is the best way through which a society can be assured of lasting peace, love and unity, and prosperity at various levels. Ethics within the society involves avoiding such temptations as stealing, conspiring against others, selfishness, or any other such behavior that would result in harming other members of the society either psychologically or physically. Any action that may harm another should be considered unethical and worth avoiding.

According to Lehrer (1987), the best way through which one can avoid unethical behavior is to listen to the conscience. One should ask self how he or she would feel if he were to be the recipient or she is just about to undertake. If the feeling would be nasty, then the best thing would be to avoid such acts and consider doing otherwise. This would foster unity. It would create an environment of trust. There would be the feeling of security and that life is worth living within the society. A sense of security would be developed, and it is through this that success can be assured.

At the organizational level, it is important to ensure that ethics is maintained. According to Spulber (2007), most of the organizations in the current world have failed because of a lack of ethics and integrity. People trusted with leadership would compromise their office or misuse it for personal gains. In the current society, corruption is the main cause of compromise in many offices. An officer in charge of a particular department would always be willing to compromise his office because of financial benefits that are offered by forces that may not be willing to follow the right channel to acquire what they need. A corrupt officer will always turn blind eye to ethics while engaging in such corrupt acts. This would be the genesis of the downfall of a firm, however big the firm might be. According to Kratschmer (2011), another unethical behavior that is gaining popularity at a very high speed is sexual favors that senior officers demand from their juniors. Cases, where a manager would demand a sexual favor from an employee before a promotion can be awarded, are on the rise.

It is apparent from the discussion of this section that ethics is always important in ensuring that a business unit operates successfully. Ethics is not only important at the organizational level, but also within the society and individual level. When an individual decides to maintain ethics, a society full of trust and harmony indeed exists. In business units, it is important to ensure that ethics are encouraged to sustain integrity. It is only through this that success can be achieved within organizations.

Local Labor Laws and its Implication on Workers

As witnessed in the task above, human resource is the most important asset that an organization can have. They are the driving force within an organization that can ensure that there is success within that organization. Laws have been enacted to help define the relationship between the employer and the employees in a workplace setting. This was because of the perceived abuse of power by some employers. According to Hooley (2008), some employers have been accused of molesting their employees in various ways. Based on the powers they have on their employees, such employers would always ensure that their will prevails, paying total disregard to the view of the employees. It is upon this that these laws were enacted to ensure that the working environment is harmonious and that there is respect and understanding between the employer and the employees.

As the new company aspires to introduce the new product in the market, it has to comply with the labor and intellectual property laws. Compliance with the law is extremely important because it gives the company an advantage over others in the market. The company that respects labor laws is always perceived positively while the one that neglects the plight of employees is always viewed negatively. Public image has a direct impact on the sales of any product. A company with a good public image regarding the treatment of employees will always perform well in the market. The organization must observe the laws of the land regarding employment (Burk and Mark 89). The constitution instructs that all firms operating in the country must observe the labor laws in case they want to operate without legal tussles.

The labor laws demand that all workers in the agricultural sector should be covered amicably in terms of wages, working hours, leave, safety, social and medical care, penalties, and termination of contracts. The firm will have to employ the services of the consultant to establish whether all laws are being adhered to prevent legal suits. The first provision of the law suggests that the organization will have to apply for the permit for each person working in the organization in case he or she is not a citizen of the country. In other words, the ministry in charge of labor must approve the appointment of any foreigner into any position in the organization. Apart from seeking verification from the ministry, the organization will have to enter into contractual terms with the individual employee. The two parties will have to sign the employment contract referred to as the labor contract.

The contract is always critical as far as the relationship between the employee and the employer is concerned. It specifies the terms of the contract, such as the rights and duties of each party. The document will describe the wages that the employee will be receiving each month, as well as any other benefit. Moreover, it also specifies the period in which the employee will be a member of the organization and the description of the job. The law provides that the nationals of any country can be involved in any contract at any time without necessarily putting it in writing. However, the case is different for foreigners who are expected to fill the form from the ministry. The organization will have to observe all these regulations when hiring its staff.

When hiring employees, the organization will observe the regulations guiding the tenure of the contract. In legal terms, tenure refers to the period for which the contract is considered valid. Since there are two types of labor contracts, the organization will ensure that all employees are given relevant contracts based on their skills and expertise. A limited employment contract is used to refer to a contract with a specified term, with the specific date of starting the job and the exact date of ending it. The term of the employee expires naturally at the end of the agreed period. The unlimited contract does not specify the termination date since either party has the power to terminate the contract when deemed necessary.

The labor laws became relevant during the industrial revolution. According to Daft (2009), during the industrial revolutions, various employers were very brutal when dealing with employees. Most of these employees had just been displaced from their small pieces of land during the agrarian revolution and they had no other but to work on these industries for their livelihood. When the oppression became unbearable to these employees, they turned violent against their employers and supervisors. The incidents where an employer would be attacked and killed brutally by the employees became common. This hostile workplace made it difficult for firms to operate normally. Anyone who was in the managerial position was never safe while in their firm. It was on this basis that it was deemed appropriate to have government intervention. The only way that the governments could intervene was to enact laws that would help define the relationship between the employer and the employees. Over the years, the labor laws have helped guide this relationship. Employees were able to form unions that would help them have a collective bargain when handling issues that affected everyone such as salaries and a better working environment. The laws have eliminated the absolute powers that employers had previously, and in its place, creating an environment full of mutual respect. Currently, employees work without fear of intimidation from the employer or the supervisor because there is a law that protects them.

Conclusion

In the current competitive market, no firm can succeed without a proper business policy and strategy. Business policy and strategy help in enabling a firm to develop measures through which it can gain a competitive advantage over its competitors in the market. The discussion above has demonstrated that business policy helps in defining organizational culture. It also helps in determining the relationship between the management and the employees. Organizational culture would always dictate the attitude that employees would take when handling their assigned duties within the firm. A positive organizational culture is always important in helping a firm develop a pool of loyal customers within the firm. The relationship between the management and employees should always be cordial. Although the relationship should always be formal, the cordial relationship should not be sacrificed for formality. To help protect this relationship further, there are labor laws set to define this relationship.

The labor laws came to help define the relationship between the employer and the employee. It has been of great help in ensuring that there is mutual respect between the employer and the employee. The labor laws have also been pivotal in the creation of trade unions where employees come together to have stronger bargaining power. Although some of the employers have lamented that most of the labor laws were enacted to protect employees at the expense of the employer, the fact is that these laws have helped in creating an environment where there is mutual respect between the employer and employee. Each of them knows his or her duties as the law has helped in defining them. This has enhanced security in the workplace.

References

Coulter, M. (2009). Strategic Management in Action. New York: Pearson Higher Education.

Daft, R. (2009). Organization Theory and Design. New York: Cengage Learning.

Griffin, R. (2012). Organizational behavior: Managing people and organizations. Mason: Cengage Learning.

Gröschl, S. (2011). Diversity in the workplace: Multi-disciplinary and international perspectives. Farnhamrey: Gower.

Hooley, G. (2008). Marketing Strategy and Competitive Positioning. Harlow: FT Prentice Hall.

Kratschmer, P. (2011). Organizational Culture is highly Resistant to Change. New York: GRIN Verlag.

Lehrer, K. (1987). Science and Ethics. Amsterdam: Rodopi.

Riggio, R. (2007). Introduction to Industrial/Organizational Psychology. Upper Saddle River: Pearson Education, Inc.

Rollin, B. (2006). Science and Ethics. London: Cambridge University Press.

Spulber, D. (2007). Global Competitive Strategy, Cambridge: Cambridge.

Business Policy & Strategy: Challenges and Trends
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