Elements of strategy @ work : a survey within the German machine and plant industry

Markowski, Alexander (2005-03)

Thesis (MBA)--Stellenbosch University, 2005.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: In undertaking this research on strategy at work, several key issues emerged and shaped its course. Firstly, it was essential to understand what strategy is about. Since the humble beginnings of strategic management in the world of business, there has been confusion about its definition and basic elements. The number of definitions, of varying usefulness, is almost as infinite as the number of authors in this field. This study therefore attempts to pinpoint the commonly agreed upon underlying elements of strategy. Secondly, the use of strategy and the benefits accruing to the corporate world were of interest. An investigation into the use of strategy and its effect on performance was carried out by means of a survey among German companies in the machine and plant manufacturing industry. Finally, data gathered were analysed to prove the existence of a relationship between the use of strategy and corporate performance. This task was done by means of non-empirical as well as empirical study. The non-empirical study was undertaken as a literature review, and set out to investigate the basic principles of strategy in order to establish a common definition regarding the elements of strategy. On the other hand, the empirical study took place in the form of a survey, collecting primary data on the matter. From the literature review it was concluded that strategy can be defined by means of five elements, namely plan, ploy, pattern, perspective and position. While the first three elements are related more to the 'how' of strategy, by asking in which form they can be seen, the latter two tell more about the 'what' of strategy, by clarifying the content. In addition to the elements of strategy, it was established that, for the purpose of this study, corporate performance can be described by using four indicators, namely growth, market share, return on equity and innovation. In the subsequent survey, companies were requested to respond to a questionnaire regarding these five elements, as well as the four indicators of their performance. Close analysis showed that companies did indeed utilise one or more elements of strategy. It is noteworthy that only two companies reported that they did not make use of strategy at all. More significant is the finding that there is a small positive relationship between the use of elements of strategy and performance. In summing up, it can be said that companies indeed utilise elements of strategy. Furthermore, it can be concluded that companies using more elements of strategy may do better than companies using fewer elements, since there is a small positive relationship between the number of elements used and performance.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: In hierdie navorsingsprojek oor Strategy at Work (Strategie in Werking) het verskeie sleutelaangeleenthede, wat die verloop daarvan gevorm het, opgeduik. Eerstens was dit noodsaaklik om begrip te hê waaroor strategie handel. Sedert die nederige ontstaan van strategiese bestuur in die sakewêreld, heers daar verwarring oor sy basiese elemente en 'n definisie daarvoor. Die aantal definisies - van afwisselende nuttigheid - is bykans so ontelbaar soos die hoeveelheid skrywers in hierdie veld. Derhalwe probeer hierdie studie die algemeen erkende en onderliggende elemente van strategie haarfyn aanwys. Tweedens was die aanwending van strategie en die voordele wat gevolglik vir die korporatiewe wêreld aangroei van belang. 'n Ondersoek na die aanwending van stategie en dié se uitwerking op prestasie is uitgevoer deur middel van 'n opname onder Duitse maatskappye in die masjien- en aanlegvervaardigingsnywerheid. Ten slotte is versamelde gegewens geanaliseer om die bestaan van 'n verband tussen die aanwending van strategie en korporatiewe prestasie te bewys. Hierdie taak is deur middel van nie-empiriese sowel as empiriese studie uitgevoer. Die nie-empiriese studie is as 'n literêre oorsig uitgevoer en het 'n ondersoek na die basiese beginsels van strategie behels - met die skep van 'n algemene definisie betreffende die elemente van strategie as oogmerk. Daarenteen het die empiriese studie die vorm aangeneem van 'n opname waartydens vername gegewens oor die aangeleentheid versamel is. Uit die literêre oorsig is die gevolgtrekking gemaak dat strategie deur middel van vyf elemente, naamlik plan, metode, patroon, perspektief en posisie, gedefinieer kan word. Waar eersvermelde drie elemente meer verband hou met die "hoe" van strategie deur te vra in watter vorm dit gesien kan word, gaan dit by die oorblywende twee meer oor die "wat" van strategie deur die inhoud te verhelder. Benewens die elemente van strategie is daar vasgestel dat vir die doel van hierdie studie korporatiewe prestasie beskryf kan word deur die aanwending van vier aanwysers, naamlik groei, markaandeel, rendement van ekwiteit en innovasie. In die daaropvolgende opname is maatskappye versoek om te reageer op 'n vraelys oor hierdie vyf elemente, asook die vier aanwysers rakende hulle prestasie. Noukeurige analise het getoon dat maatskappye inderdaad een of meer elemente van strategie aangewend het. Dit is meldenswaardig dat net twee maatskappye aangedui het dat hulle geensins van strategie gebruik gemaak het nie. En meer betekenisvol is die bevinding dat daar 'n geringe, positiewe verwantskap is tussen die aanwending van elemente van strategie en prestasie. Opsommenderwys kan aangevoer word dat maatskappye inderdaad elemente van stategie aanwend. Vervolgens kan die afleiding gemaak word dat maatskappye, wat meer elemente van strategie toepas, nog beter vaar as maatskappye wat minder elemente aanwend aangesien daar 'n klein, positiewe verband tussen die aantal elemente wat aangewend word en prestasie bestaan.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/50336
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