Linking Competencies with Strategies: The Case of Small and Medium- Sized Exporting Firms in Kenya
Namusonge, M. J.
MetadataShow full item record
The purpose of this study was to assess the relative importance of management competencies and competitive strategies among Kenyan exporting small- to medium-sized enterprises, and to determine if relationships existed between the managers’ ratings of the importance of competencies and the firms’ competitive strategies. The study adopted a cross sectional descriptive design. Stratified random sampling technique was used to select 60 firms from a population of 210 exporting firms. The strata were the three dominant exporting sectors in Kenya namely, the manufacturing, agricultural and the services. A standardized PDI instrument was used to collect data on managers’ competencies while a self-made questionnaire solicited data on competitive strategies. A survey was the major method of data collection. Data analysis included the use of basic descriptive statistics and the analysis of variance (ANOVA). The results indicated that while some competencies are equally important among exporting SMEs, others are not equally important. Some competencies were also found to be more important in some sectors than in others. The results showed that leadership, strategic thinking and organizational knowledge are cross sector or core competencies and they applied regardless of the function or type of organization. The relative importance of other competencies varied by sector type. Furthermore firms differed among themselves (by sector type) with respect to the competitive strategies they used to pursue their export activities. The services sector competed mostly by the differentiation strategy, the manufacturing sector competed mostly on the low-cost strategy while most of the firms in the agricultural sector employed the focus strategy. Firms were also found to be strategically flexible. Lastly, it was found that the relationships between certain competencies and competitive strategies could differ significantly among the exporting firms. The results further emphasized the importance of a firm’s competencies in achieving certain competitive strategies. The notion of strategies and competencies among SMEs in Kenya was also found to be very different from the conventional ones. These findings have both theoretical and practical considerations for the exporting firms, HRD educators, policy makers, and researchers. The most significant conclusion was that the relative efficacy of competencies is likely to be context dependent and that sustainable competitive advantages are likely to result if firms increase their competencies on a continuous basis.