Strategic Planning and Competitive Advantage of ICT Small and Medium Enterprises in Kenya

Zachary B. Awino


The Paper is the research findings on the role of strategic planning and competitive advantage of ICT Small and Medium Enterprises in Kenya. Literature suggests that the contemporary business environment in which organisations operate is increasingly becoming uncertain and unpredictable. Significant changes are mostly driven by technological changes, globalisation and trade liberalisation. As a result, like large enterprises, SMEs are facing new and unexpected challenges that threaten their competitiveness. While most countries acknowledge the critical role that SMEs contribute to their economies, both as an engine of growth and sustainable development, many questions still remain unanswered as to the determination of the critical challenges facing SMEs and how these challenges could be addressed to improve their competitiveness. These challenges have increased the need for empirical information which is essential for decision making in addressing issues that are likely to enhance SMEs survival and growth. It is noted that there has been no adequate research studies on the role of strategic planning and competitive advantage of SMEs. This study contributes to the need to address the research gaps and thus explored the role of strategic planning and competitive advange of SMEs in Kenya. The study population consisted of 238 ICT SMEs from Nairobi and its environs. A sample size of 146 firms constituting 61 per cent of the total population was selected through stratified sampling. The study aimed to collect data from 438 respondents from top, middle and lower management teams. Structured questionnaires with closed and open ended questions was used for data collection, 239 responses were received from 123 ICT firms a response rate of 55 per cent and 84.2 per cent respectively. Key characteristics of strategic planning including formality, environmental analysis processes both internal and external orientations, strategies adopted, and implementation and control were recorded. Data analysis was done using descriptive statistics, factor analysis, t-test, ANOVA, correlation, correlation matrixes and regression analysis. The key findings revealed that strategic planning has significant and positive influence in performance of SME’s. The test of hypothesis revealed that strategic planning has positive and significant influence on competitive advantage. The study demonstrated strategic planning as a learning tool and a strategic resource which is consistent with the underlying assumptions of resource based theory, systems theory, chaos theory and balanced score card model assumptions. It is envisaged that, this kind of research is likely to generate useful discussions on the role of strategic planning and performance, of SMEs. It is apparent that entrepreneurs of SMEs cannot ignore strategic planning as significant changes in competitive advantage is the result of change or effective application of strategic planning. Policy makers and academicians may need to address the capacity needs of SMEs and develop strategic planning model that address the challenges that SMEs encounter in a dynamic environment.

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