Analysis of strategic responses of commercial banks towards attaining competitive advantage in Kenya
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Over five years (2001-2006) there have been changes in the Kenyan economy and commercial banks have not been sparred from the impact of these changes. The aim of this study was to establish analysis of the strategic responses of commercial banks towards attaining competitive advantage in Kenya. The objectives of the study were the need to find the challenges in the banking industry, to find out how information technology, restructuring, marketing strategies has influenced the attainment of competitive advantage in the banking industry, to establish how corporate culture change and customer service delivery influences attainment of competitive advantage of a bank. To satisfy these objectives data was collected from thirty three selected commercial banks in Nairobi and from each bank two managers in general managers department and human resource or marketing department were targeted as the principal respondents. A self administered questionnaire was used as major tools of data collection. The aim of the questionnaire was to capture data on challenges in the banking industry, strategic responses adopted by commercial banks and managers opinion on what should be done on ensuring that competitive advantage is attained. Descriptive research design was preferred for the presentation of findings. In this case data was analysed using the mean score and standard deviation because it was measured at the ratio level using a five point scale. The mean scores were ranked giving the highest score the greatest importance. Histograms were also drawn to show the spread of the factors which eased comparison and interpretation of results. The study established that commercial banks are faced with many challenges and liberalization was taken to be the challenge that is a threat to the industry. In this study, Information Technology appears to be a strategic move by the banks to lay a basis for offering services geared towards facilitating emerging trends in trade such as E-commerce. The results of this study tally with the findings of Gathoga (2001) that the commercial banks are in competition and their products and services differential is quite thin hence need for restructuring. The study also revealed that a number of strategic marketing variables are manipulated by commercial banks to respond to a competitive intensity in the banking sector. These include; developing new products, and market development and market focus. Further the study revealed that branding of corporate building had a mean score of 3.65 and nature of internal communication were most notable changes relating to corporate culture most effected in commercial banks. Schein (1985) concludes that successful organizations must be able, not only to deliver a high level of customer service, but also manage cultural change. The study was based on four major strategic response variables. A further study can be carried out on other responses that commercial banks has made in order to attain competitive advantage. This will then allow industry generalization.
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