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From Concept to Reality: Ensuring Success through Strategic Implementation

Introduction

Most people are of the idea that the formulation of unique and innovative strategies is crucial and is enough to lead a company or an organisation to success in the contemporary business world, especially when seeking business dissertation help. Additionally, they understand that it is important to ensure that such strategies work. Therefore, executives are needed to pay keen attention to the strategies implementation to avoid any possible pitfalls which may cause the failure of their organisations (Sahay, 2018). There are some approaches which can be used to enhance the efficiency of strategy implementation greatly. Indeed, research shows that effective management of strategies is an activity which requires people to actively consider their strategies as they come up with daily decisions in the current ever transforming world. According to Sahay (2018), about 50% to 80% of the efforts of strategy implementation fail. These individuals say that the reason for this failure is because strategy execution is a very time-consuming and complicated strategic management aspect, while the formulation of strategy is basically a creative and an intellectual act which involves synthesis and analysis. In line with this argument, Cater and Pucko (2010) says that it is this critical to understand how to successfully implement strategies by studying its properties.

Zaribaf and Bayrami (2010) say that many large companies have often experienced problems in strategy implementation. They claim that unlike the formulation of strategy, its implementation can be achieved when everyone inside and outside the organisation, and it cannot be successfully implemented solely by the top management. These individuals say that while strategy formulation is usually top-down, its implementation needs the simultaneous across, bottom-up and top-down efforts. Since literature has indicated that it is crucial to understand the properties of strategy implementation, this literature review intends to shed some light on the factors which affect strategy implementation in the steel fabrication industries in the UAE as perceived by employees, including communication, organisational structure, culture, leadership and changing markets/environmental circumstances.

1. Communication

According to Cina and Cummings (2018), communication is highly linked to strategic consensus and that all employees within organisations should know the directions their firms are going as well as the objectives to be fulfilled. Additionally, they should understand the organisations’ visions. In this regard, the researchers say that communication play a critical role as it is the means which is used to reach the consensus. These researchers claim that the task of the management is to make sure that communication happens between the middle management and themselves and between different activities or functions and other vital connections with organisations. Rappert et al. (2002) claim that a vertical communication is necessary through the company besides frequent communications as methods of arriving at shared perceptions, beliefs and values among employees and to reach the level of higher performance in organisations. This claim is supported by Kihara (2017) who feels the importance of having a common understanding and language. These researchers also received support from Cooke-Davies (2017) who found the existence of major problems especially with the absence of upward and honest conversations from the staff members concerning underlying causes and barriers, caused by a rigid top-down style of management. All these researchers agree that with a poor and rigid vertical communication, effective implementation of strategy is inhibited.

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Hrebiniak (2006) claim that for effective execution of strategies, many people in the organisation must be involved in the formulation of the strategy. This individual says that because of this large number of people, problems arise. According to Hrebniak (2006), a downward and communication across various functions in the company becomes difficult. Additionally, ensuring that processes in the entire firm supports the execution of the set strategies becomes problematic in large organisations. Also, linking the firm’s strategic objectives with its daily objectives at all the different locations and levels become challenging. In fact, the larger the number of individuals involved the more problematic it is to execute strategies. Hrebniak (2006) says that in organisations with different functions, there is need to coordinate and serve customers as well as gain advantage in the particular industry segment or market. However, large organisations have many people at different levels and functions, individuals with different views or perception of the world. Therefore, there is the need to coordinate different functions such as manufacturing, marketing and research and development (R&D) to achieve the organisation’s common goals, which can be difficult. Hrebniak (2006) proposes different methods to successfully coordinate such functions including, improving communication in the firm across the diverse activities, sharing knowledge, integrating roles, teams and matrix structures.

Previous research by Balmer (2017) found a link between constituency-focused strategy and the function of corporate communication. This individual asserts that using corporate communication is an effective strategy of management as it is concerned with determining the important constituencies as well as the information these constituencies need. Furthermore, the researcher claims that with anticipated communication responses, stakeholders become informed and the company understands their needs as well which informs the management strategy in the company.

Kohler and Zerfass (2019) also researched about the significance of corporate communication in strategy implementation. They found that internal communication in companies have overarching significance both in the creation or making of the strategy but also in the effective and successful strategy implementation. In their study, Kohler and Zerfass (2019) found that corporate communication is the department whose function is to implement strategies in the organisation through communication. They say that the corporate communication unit or department acts as an organisation’s antenna and receives reactions or responses from important constituencies to different strategies of the company. In support of this argument, Carroll (2016) also looked at the association between communication and strategy. The researchers concluded in their study that an organisation can develop competitiveness by establishing the desired or needed outcomes by using material resources by managing communication to mould the perceptions and interpretations of constituents. Similarly, the individuals claim that organisations can gain a competitive edge through socializing its departments or constituents to its culture by using communication to establish long-term relationships within its constituents who format or shape the organisation’s reputation and image.

On a different note, Obeidat et al. (2017) argue that corporate communication is associated with corporate reputation. The researchers say that communication benefits can come from both the frequency and amount of communication from the different issues revealed through communication. The individuals say that communication which makes an organisation more transparent allows shareholders not only to appreciate the company’s operations but also confers the organisation better reputation. This argument is supported by Burke (1998) who says that the primary purpose of corporate communication is to foster, sustain and develop the firm’s reputation. Burke (1998) assumes that the reputation of a company is determined by its effective communication functions. As is demonstrated in the figure below, Burke (1998) says that reputation comes from a cumulative impressions of the organisation’s constituencies which include suppliers, customers, government, the community, investors and employees. What is more, the individual says that corporate communication plays a central function in managing this impression, always working to enhance the firm’s reputation.

According to Blakeman (2018), communication is an important characteristic of leadership and that a good leader should know how to enhance communication in their company. These individuals say that blocked-vertical communication has a pernicious impact on the organisation’s ability to refine and implement its strategies. This is also similar to what Mohamad and Bakar (2018) highlighted that successful CEOs are those who link functions of corporate communication to strategy implementation and who focus on prioritising internal communication, reputation and branding.

2. Organisational Structure

In a study conducted by Ahsan, Sabil and Othman (2018), it is demonstrated that organisational structure has been impacted by organisational strategies. In other words, these individuals believe that structure follows organisational strategies. Ahsan, Sabil and Othman (2018) also claim that strategy is often created exclusively by the top management while the middle-level management works on its implementation unless a large variety of changes are needed before the implementation, that is the structure to be aligned with the organisation’s strategy.

Bushardt, Glascoff and Doty (2011) examined the link between firm reward structure and organisational culture and discovered that these factors are correlated positively. Zell (2018) also found similar results when they studied the process of strategic implementation in a giant computer organisation, Hawlett-Packard. These researchers found support structures or organisational structures are crucial for staff members to readily act on the information or knowledge developed to create as well as implement strategy. These researchers claim that organisational structure offers a company a visual description or an explanation on how to do resource allocation and making process.

Kiss and Barr (2017) examined product development and the process of strategy implementation in large American and Japanese Companies. This person concluded that as compared to the American firms, Japanese Organisations implement their strategies using various mechanistic and organics structures. To support this claim, Markiewicz (2011) reflected the significance of structures and processes in the effective strategy implementation. This individual also proposed that perception, innovation and creativity of the organisation are critical in supporting the implementation of the strategies.

In addition to the above arguments, Matanda and Ewing (2012) evaluated strategy implementation in Kimberly-Clark, a multinational healthcare organisation. They found that processes, marketing capabilities, global branding and brand planning contribute to the success of the company. In line with this finding, Theodore et al. (2017) studied six varieties of generic strategies implementation and found that a very influential aspect needed for the success of businesses needs a fit between organisational architecture and strategy. Organisational design and structure are vital as they comprise decisions linked to the allocation of resources for different activities and units in the company ecosystem and environment (Noguera-Rodrigues et al., 2017).

Furthermore, Nwachukwu et al. (2019) say that different businesses should be independent to quickly respond to customers’ needs and competitors’ actions. However, they should not be too independent to result in unnecessary resource duplication or destroy changes for scale economies or synergies across the businesses. This individual proposes that organisations should create the right balance of decentralisation and centralisation to meet their strategic goals. Hrebniak (2006) emphasises that structure is critical at business levels. For instance, the researcher says that cost-leadership usually depend on functional-structures to fulfil critical capabilities and expertise, scope and scale economies which come from repetition, standardization and volume linked to functional design. Therefore, the individual says that structure supports the implementation of strategy.

On a different note, Lorange (1998) highlighted a concern with restructuring of businesses. The researcher suggested that restructuring and the prospective gains and the strategy should be outweighed. He claims that usually, the right-sizing or restructuring efforts result in unintentional discarding of the technical know-how which can be useful for future development or growth in a different context. Many researches have analysed the relationship between organisational structure and strategy by highlighting the challenges experienced in the process of strategy implementation, especially the problems associated with weak coordination of organisational activities. Supporting this argument is the claim of MacDonald-Wilson et al. (2017) who suggested changing poor coordination into team cooperation by restructuring or realigning roles, accountabilities and responsibilities related with the strategy. On a different note, Chang (2016) suggested that from the perspective of implementation, it is crucial for the organisation to use cross-functional processes of enforcing implementation of strategy as compared to changing organisational structure. In line with these arguments, Bahadori et al. (2018) claim in their study of how organisational structure affects strategy implementation that, the process of implementation of new strategies should be formal and structured. These individuals concluded that when undertaking the process of strategy development, greater focus should be placed on the organisation’s financial information. However during the implementation process, both non-financial and financial information should be emphasized.

On organisational structure as a factor that influences strategy implementation, Nwachukwu et al. (2019) argued that managing change can be very difficult as the process of execution usually involve changes I responsibilities, objectives, people, control, incentives and structure. According to Nwachukwu et al. (2019), change can be very threatening and it is crucial to manage change effectively during strategy implementation. This individual claims that the inability to reduce resistance during the implementation of new changes, actions or decisions can be disastrous. Nwachukwu et al. (2019) states that the chosen structure is important in strategy implementation. According to Nwachukwu et al. (2019), corporations acquire or create businesses which make up the company over time and some corporate acquisitions turn out to be decentralised or independent units that compete favourably in different sectors. This person claims that there are often functions or activities which cut across businesses allowing for reduced duplication and centralisation of resources and scale economies.

3. Culture

According to Omesa et al. (2019), all organisations have their own cultures influenced by individuals working in them, history, and management and by circumstances. This researchers claim that communication is usually crucial in shaping organisational cultures to some degree. They say that managers can attempt to create cultures with the help of communication. These individuals perceive organisational cultures as a unit of shared values of the staff. Omesa et al. (2019) say that companies can become highly competitive through socializing its departments to their cultures and can apply communication to help facilitate this process and create long-term relationships in the organisations to shape good reputation and image.

Alshumrani, Munir and Baird (2018) studied how programs of organisational development and its use impacts companies to adopt new structures or cultures and how its impact on organisational operating procedures. They concluded that adaptable employees that are willing to start change procedures and processes, and flexible structures are necessary for the firms to create high-quality services or products at the lowest cost.

Tamayo-Torres et al. (2016) studied the link between organisational culture and enterprise resource planning implementation and discovered that the success of this kind of implementation is linked positively to organisational culture accompanied with the dimensions of development and learning, power-sharing, conflicts risk tolerance, collaboration and support and participatory or inclusive decision-making, that are all elements of the firm’s cultural environment.

Mahmoudi and Akbari (2016) delved into the issue of organisational culture as a factor that influences strategy implementation in Iranian Banks. These people found the existence of a significant relationship between strategy implementation and organisational culture. The outcome of their research demonstrated that all organisational culture types have a substantial link with the process of strategy implementation. However, the level of the influence that culture has on strategy implementation differs from the clan culture or most effective culture to the hierarchy or least effective cultures.

In a study conducted by Hrebniak (2006), about the obstacles to effective implementation of strategies, the individual found that inadequate or poor sharing of information, unclear accountability and responsibilities as well as working against the firm’s power structure, all being part of the company’s structure, can lead to a failed process of strategy implementation. Similar findings were realised by Lorange (1998) who studied the significance of human resources in strategy implementation in firms and discovered that for the process of strategy implementation to be successful, top leaders or management should be immensely involved in reviewing and monitoring the progress of all strategic programs developed by the organisation. Similarly, Carlopio and Harvey (2012) concentrated on the principles of social-psychology and their impacts on effective strategy implementation. They discovered that if a company’s culture and structure do not coincide with the suggested strategy and the new expected behaviours, then the process of strategy implementation will be defeated. Padmanabhan (2018) highlighted that an organisational culture which supports the values and principles in the expected strategy leads to a successful implementation of strategies. These individuals found in their study samples that 86 percent of the most successful firms had cultures that were aligned to their strategy and considered this alignment to be highly significant as compared to 55% of the least successful organisations.

In a study conducted by Kiehne et al. (2017), in their conceptual implementation model, as conducted in multinational firms by middle managers, they identified, similar to the findings of Schmid (2017), the relative significance of three implementation effort determinants including: perceived success probability, perceived ability as well as perceived consistency between strategic change goals and personal goals. To extend further on this concept, Kiehne et al. (2017) discovered that personal characteristics demonstrated by middle managers impact perceptions. Additionally, these individuals found the characteristics of national cultures to influence the middle managers’ perceptions.

According to Barbuto (2016), who evaluated five different process approaches applied to advance implementation of strategy, including Crescive model, cultural model, Collaborative model, Change Model and Commander Model, found the first approach to deal solely with strategic position. They claim that this first approach need to guide chief executive officers to charter the future of their organisations. The chief executive officer can use competitive and economic analyses to organise and plan their resource allocations to meet their gaols. The change model, on the other hand, focuses on how control systems, incentive compensation and organisational structure can be applied to facilitate strategy implementation. The collaborative model focuses on team decision-making at senior levels and includes the top management formulating processes to develop commitment. The fourth concept attempts to implement strategies by using corporate culture. The last approach looks at a manager’s inclination to desire developing new opportunities during their daily management activities. The initial three modes demonstrates the significance of manipulating the organisation to implement strategies while the last two models deal with strategy formulation and the need for little effort in the implementation process.

According to Imran et al. (2016), there are various factors which can impact strategy implementation including context (organisation context including organisational culture and organisations structure, environmental context including uncertainty in the general task environment), processes including feedback and control, communication, people, resources and operational planning and strategic outcomes.

Ul Musawir et al. (2017) also came up with an implementation framework with four major parts including content such as strategic decisions and the implementation of multiple projects, context which includes organisational learning, organisational culture and structure, external context which includes environmental uncertainty in the task and general environment, processes which include external partners, feedback, monitoring, communication, people, resource allocation and operational planning, and outcome which includes tangible and intangible results of the implemented project.

4. Leadership

El Khouly, AbdelDayem and Saleh (2017) say that having a motivated team of employees, aligning the structure of the organisation, streamlining organisational processes and coordination of different activities as well as remaining committed to the implementation of new strategies are some of the key responsibilities to by overseen by quality leadership. These individuals identified the responsibility of the board that is maintaining consistency in processes, resource allocation and the organisation’s intended strategy. El Khouly, AbdelDayem and Saleh (2017) claim that poor coordination across the different functions of the organisation and a lacking down-the-line leadership development and skills are the main killers of the implementation process of new strategies.

According to Zaribaf and Bayrami (2010), the importance of leadership can be seen in three different ways including, first, in managing strategic processes, controlling or regulating manager training and managing relationships. These individuals say that the leadership and commitment and leadership seen in the top-level managers is critical in the implementation of new strategy. In another study by Mapetere et al. (2012) in Zimbabwe involving government-owned businesses, the researchers discovered that the involvement or low leadership in the implementation of new strategies resulted in only partial success.

Cater and Pucko (2010) says that a properly-formulated strategy, an effective and strong pool of skilled staff and the human capital are vital resources for the success of strategy. On the contrary, the individuals say that poor leadership is a factor that is a major obstacle in achieving successful implementation of strategies. According to Hayati, Atefi and Ahearne (2018) the top management and the chief executive officer should emphasise the different interfaces in the company. According to this individual, one main change in the success implementation of strategy in organisations is making sure that staff members’ buy-in as well as directing their business understanding and capabilities toward the new approach. Therefore, the demand for effective leadership tops of all important factors in ensuring successful strategy implementation. According to El Khouly, AbdelDayem and Saleh (2017) examined this concept from different views. They proposed that with the lack of quality leadership, there will be conflicting priorities which will lead to poor coordination as the employees will know that the top management prefers avoiding embarrassing and potentially threating circumstances.

Cheung, Chung and Lin (2016) says that the process of implementing new strategies is a hand-on action-oriented human characteristic or behaviour and operation which needs key managerial experiences and skills and executive leadership. According to Cheung, Chung and Lin (2016), implementation is basically defined as senior leadership characteristics and behaviours or activities which can change a working schedule or plan into concrete visible realities. Cheung, Chung and Lin (2016) found that senior-level leaders that underwent training in strategic implementation and planning are likely to reach high targets of performance for their organisations.

While examining how the implementation of quality or competitive strategies impact the performance of business units, Calisir et al. (2016) claim that the application of transformational leadership techniques by managers lead to highly competitive strategies such as low cost products, marketing differentiation and innovation differentiation. They say that the leadership approach adopted in a particular organisation impacts how the selected strategies will be enacted. Furthermore, organisation structure, managers’ freedom, responsibilities delegation, the reward and incentive systems are also influenced by the kid of leadership approach in particular organisations. According to these researchers, these parameters are all crucial to implement strategies successfully in any organisation.

Research by O’Reilly et al. (2010) shows that leaders usually have a significant effect on organisational performance. These researchers described leadership as the capability to formally assign specific hierarchical responsibilities to impact a team to meet the goals of the organisation. Therefore, the process of implementation is crucially impacted by the leader overseeing it. The leader must make sure that the entire organisation is focused and committed to the adopted strategy by convincing the whole team that the new strategy is vital and that it is meaningful to receive their support. The leader should know how to deal with any potential resistance and create consensus as well as allocate resources. The consensus is particularly critical to allow the leaders at low or subordinate levels to work on reinforcing the strategy.

Kihara, Bwisa and Kihoro (2016) individual assumes that a leader’s personality is the main determinant of the actions to be taken during strategy implementation. The second category considers the impact of context on an individual’s behaviour while the third perspective examines the effect of the relationship between middle managers and top manager on the implementation of strategy.

5. The Changing Environment/Changing Circumstances

Different authors have worked hard to identify and categorise challenges which impact the process of strategy implementation which are linked to external influencers. For instance, Wheelen and Hunger (2010) highlighted the impossibility of sufficient evaluation and identification of external environmental factors. According to these individuals, there are usually competitors who distract attention from particular set implementation processes and instead redirect resources as well as change the organisation’s list of priorities in solving the challenges faced by the firms. Elliot, Day and Lichtenstein (2019) also argue that the macro-environment stability increases risks of certain circumstances like expanding the business to new markets, developing new products and investing on other financial markets.

According to Jardioui, Garengo and El Alami (2017), implementation of new strategies is a complex endeavour as it relies on many factors which indirectly and directly impact its course. These individuals say that to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of implementation, it is critical to balance managing the impact from outside and inside the business. These researchers claim that about all businesses have strategies but not all strategies are good in terms of the plans being insufficient to achieve the set goals. Although it is apparent that combining an excellent strategy creation with a good process of implementation leads to better performance, these individuals point out that, it is better to possess a poorly described or defined strategy that is properly implemented as compare to having an excellent strategy which is partially implemented. In support of this argument, Martin (2010) says that the implementation phase is an important stage in strategy management as the success of businesses depend on what the organisation can practically do. Similarly, Hrebniak (2006) believes that an insufficient strategy can hamper the process of implementation, but, a good process of implementation can help overcome the lack of a badly structured or poor strategy.

Johnson et al. (2014) say that environmental uncertainty is seen as a function of the growth in environmental complexity and dynamism. These people say that more complex and dynamic environmental conditions are characterised by more uncertainties. Moreover, dynamic environments are characterised by a continuous change in environmental variables which comprise of uncertainty dimensions like competition, supply and demand conditions, customer tastes and needs and technology. Additionally, the researchers argue that environmental complexity is about the diversity and amount of variables which influence uncertainty dimensions in a given environment.

According to Engert and Baumgartner (2016), the effect of external environments on organisations’ strategy implementation can be looked at from two perspectives. First, organisations should evaluate environmental uncertainties by measuring the extent of complexity and turbulence. These individuals say that context characteristics demonstrate more or less stable framework or approach where strategic plans can be implemented. Engert and Baumgartner (2016) claim that some businesses, however, are more agile and active in searching for opportunities in the market or external environment. For this reason, such organisations should evaluate their proactiveness in looking for context opportunities to understand the reason for operating in the industrial sector, under those conditions and how different success levels can be achieved. According to these individuals, assessing external contexts and the organisation’s proactiveness in looking for new opportunities provides an organisation with a bigger picture regarding the relationship between the process of strategy implementation and external context. As a result, the two approaches helps bridge the gap between what the organisation can do and what they might do to reach high performance.

Martin (2010) and Hrebniak (2006) suggest highlight the importance of evaluating the relationship between strategy implementation and the external context by examining the extent of perceived uncertainty, the business approach in looking for and managing environmental or external influences, and performance of the business during the process of implementation. According to these individuals, understanding the link between these factors allows the company to describe how their business can enhance the damping impact of external or environmental influences on the implementation process and how it can raise its proactiveness in looking for new opportunities in the market.

According to Van der Maas (2008), strategic context concerns the existing circumstances within which organisational processes and strategy content are determined. Kibicho (2014) claim that the concept of strategy has grown to become a crucial management aspect because of the complexity and dynamics of the world and due to the rising turbulence in the business environment. Padmanabhan (2018) support this argument by stating that exploring the features of the environment, organisations define the level to which the external context affects the transformation of their strategic plans into real or concrete actions. According to Padmanabhan (2018), strategy execution, regardless of its brilliance, needs a well thought out and planned approach and a continuous monitoring of the environment. This individual says that monitoring and identifying the environmental context features is about determining the extent of uncertainty in that context.

Obaga (2016) says that most short-term business lack sufficient control or power over the external influences. This claim is supported by Njagi and Kombo (2014) who says that the environment is a sophisticated mechanism which evolve and change constantly. Additionally, the contemporary business environment is very competitive thereby making it important to use different monitoring techniques of the environment to be in control of the external environmental influencers.

According to ul Musawir et al. (2017), context uncertainty impacts the process of strategy implementation and can lower its success. They claim that context uncertainty is insufficient to describe why different businesses operating in the same sector implement strategies successful as compared to others. Imran et al. (2016) claim that the orientation of strategy is closely associated with environmental uncertainty. The extent of uncertainty can be measureable, objective, perceived and subjective. However, these researchers say that it is critical to know how the business behaves in certain environmental situations. Bredillet, Tywoniak and Tootoonchy (2018) say that environmental uncertainty raises information processing in business as managers must find opportunities, find and interpret problematic areas, develop structural adaptations and implement strategically.

Njue and Ongoto (2018) says that those managers that experience or perceives high levels of environmental uncertainty usually do extensive environmental scanning. Njue and Ongoto (2018) who claim that highly performing top leaders differ in their scanning emphases on domains according to the extent of dynamism they see in the external environment.

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Conclusion

These literature dealt with strategy implementation from different aspects as they apply in organisations, for instance, the relationship between strategy development and implementation, and the factors which affect or hamper the successful strategy implementation. These researches have dealt with the role of communication, leadership, structure, external or environmental factors and culture

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