How can strategic management be used as a means of achieving greater sales levels?

Introduction
There was an era when there were only a few companies selling similar products within a particular market or globally, and the demands of the customers were relatively simple and less sophisticated. At that time, the phenomenon of strategic management was neither popular nor deemed a critical element for business success. Such was the case throughout the first half of the 20th century. According to Orcullo (2007), the notion of strategic management only became popular and well known after the 1970s. Before that, most of the trade and commerce was performed by independent entities, each making and selling its products in their own markets without much competition or constraints. In such an era, all an organization needed was a good business plan, product and resources to achieve sales target. However, with the business environment becoming increasingly competitive, strategic management is becoming similarly more and more important for achieving success. In business, the profitability of a business from revenues generated through sales is the most prominent parameter of success. Thus the strategic management of a business directly impacts upon its sales activities. Given the direct link of sales activity of a business and its strategic management, it is important to determine if and how strategic management can be used to generate higher level of sales. This forms the central premise of this study.
Background

In the contemporary academic field of business management, strategic management is one of the most extensively researched areas; however, it is quite ironic that there is no general consensus among academics regarding the definition of strategy. The phenomenon of strategy originates from military strategies that have existed for hundreds of years. The same concept is being applied to business management. Since this study aims to findout how strategic management can be used to boost sales, it is important to determine what aspect of business activity pertains to strategic management and how it relates to sales. Than only we would be able to conclude that how and in what ways strategic management has (or can) be used to achieve higher level of sales.
Moreover, it is vital to classify strategic management at different organizational levels in order to establish strategic approaches according to each different level which fosters sales growth. Researchers widely cite four different level of strategic management; namely Enterprise Strategy, Corporate Strategy, Business Unit Strategy, and Operational Strategy.
Enterprise level strategy is the broadest level of strategic management and considers question such as what is the role of organization within the society it operates and what does it stand for. Corporate level strategy considers what business a firm should be in. Business level strategy considers how a business should compete successfully while the operational level strategy is concerned how each business function in organized to achieve the overall objective of a firm. This study will try to determine how different aspects of strategic management at each of these levels impact upon sales performance of a firm (Archie et, al. 2011).
Research Philosophy
Identifying the underpinning research philosophy for a study is important in order to formulate a suitable research methodology. In Western research philosophies, mainly three philosophies have been widely cited by researchers namely positivist and interpretivist and realist (Galliers, 1991).
A positivist research philosophy views reality as is a constant phenomenon and define it from an entirely objective perspective (Levin, 1988). Contrary to the positivism, interpretivism, emphasizes upon the subjective interpretation of reality claiming that reality is constructed socially (Husserl, 1965). Realists assert that reality is independent of human thoughts, emotions and beliefs (Phillips, 1987). The research philosophy underlying the proposed study would be interpretivism and to some extent realism. The reason behind this is that strategy is in itself is a highly subjective and contextual phenomenon; i.e. it cannot be quantified in any manner. Its validity in a given circumstance can only be judged by it outcomes.
Research Strategy
The research strategy adopted for the proposed study is exploratory because this study aims to understand the phenomenon of strategic management in a new light, i.e. its value for generating higher sales. The study will utilize qualitative data for gathering primary data for the research.
Research Method
Case Study
The data collecting method adopted for this research will be case study. Case studies are suitable for describing relationships that exist in reality. This method pertains to studying one or more than one organization (Cohen, et al. 2000). Through this method, the researcher will try to capture different strategic management approaches at various levels of several firms in great detail and analyze their impact upon their sales performance. This will enable the researcher to identify what works and what doesn’t work at various levels or organization in term of achieving higher sales. The data will be connected through interviews with the managers at the firms selected for this research. In addition, company policies, mission statements, media reports, financial performance data, among other sources of information will be referred to for collecting primary data.
The Research Sample
The sampling criteria for this research is to choose firms operating in FMCG industry, as these firms rely heavily on sales performance for their profitability as they have relatively low profit margins for their products.
Research Objectives
The objective of this research is to establish that strategic management is linked to the sales volume of a business and thus how can it be used to achieve higher level of sales. Strategic management is a vast subject without clearly defined definitions, and boundaries and thus it encapsulates almost every aspect of business management. This study aims to determine the specifics of strategic management that directly affect sales volume of a company.
Research Questions
What enterprise level strategy can be used to achieve higher level of sales?
What corporate level strategy can be used to achieve higher level of sales?
What business level strategy can be used to achieve higher sales?
What functional level strategies can be used to achieve higher sales?
Timescale
Formulate an initial plan of the research
Draft the dissertation proposal
Gather secondary information
Conduct primary research
Documenting and analyzing data
First draft of the complete dissertation
Final draft of the dissertation
Resources
In order to undertake this study, the researcher will require several resources to complete the work needed. First and foremost, the researcher will need access to secondary information to formulate a firm background for this study. It will include information about any studies and research conducted previously regarding strategic management for generating higher sales volume. Moreover, the researcher will need information regarding relevant research methodologies and writing guidelines for documenting this study. All this information could be attained from authentic books, journals, research papers, available at libraries or digitally from online databases such as Emerald Insight, Sage, or Jstor, etc. Internet can also be equally a good source of information.
For the primary research, the researcher will need access to the relevant personnel of several sample organizations for undertaking case studies along with their consent for voluntary participation in this study. Finally, in order to document and present this study in a formal manner, the researcher will need stationery, computer system and basic word processing software to complete this study.
References
Archie, B. and Buchholtz, K (2011) Business and Society: Ethics and Stakeholder Management. Cengage Learning
Cohen, L., Manion, L. and Morrison, (2000). Research Methods in Education (5th ed.). London: Routledge Falmer.
Galliers, R. (1991). Choosing appropriate information systems research approaches: A revised taxonomy. R. Galliers, ed. Information Systems Research: Issues, Methods and Practical Guidelines. Blackwell, Oxford, U.K., 144–162
Husserl, E. (1965), Phenomenology and the crisis of philosophy, New York: Harper Torchbooks.
Johnson G. Scholes K. Whittingham W. 2008. Exploring Corporate Strategy. 8th edition. Prentice Hall
Levin, D. M. (1988). The opening of vision: Nihilism and the postmodern situation. London: Routledge.
Orcullo, N. (2007) Fundamentals of Strategic Management. Rex Bookstore, Inc.
Phillips D. (1987). Philosophy, science and social Inquiry. New York: Pergamon Press.
Porter, M. (2001) Service Operations Strategy. Harvard Business School

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