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1.1 Background to the study

Organizations are finding it difficult to predict their long-term survival due to the ever dynamic business environment resulting in different opportunities and challenges. This necessitates organizations to come up with fail proof strategies to ensure their long-term achievement of goals (Koigi, 2002). Not for profit organizations are not an exception, they have to strive to find a foothold in a volatile environment that has scarce resources and a large number of stakeholders that require the essential services provided. Porter (2008) ascertains that organizations have to create a unique and valuable position that enables them to conduct activities that are different from those of rivals thus ensuring long-term survival.

According to Harmon, Fairfield and Behson (2009), of performance targets in financial, environmental and social terms have become a common trend. Barry, (1986) states that many not for profit organizations use partnership strategies such as growth and income diversification to have an impact in the environment; strategic alliances and sharing of services with one or more other organization; providing essential services to both governmental and non governmental entities; human resource strategies and undertaking cost cutting measures. With effective operationalization and institutionalization of strategies that put in perspective the various environmental trends, organizations can enhance their overall performance and improve their capability to serve the purposes for which they exist into the future (Thompson & Strickland 2011).

Organization theory (Pfeiffer 1997, Zammuto and Cameron, 1983, and Casey, 2002) and resource-based theory (Porter 1985, Wernerfelt 1984, North 1990, Barney 1991) will anchor this study. Organization theory states ways in which an organization can cope with rapid change both in its internal and external environment to ensure its survival. A different approach for describing organization turnaround in organization theory was proposed by Zammuto and Cameron (1983). Their model addresses five process domains that focuses on the organization, these are; the defense, offense, diversification, consolidation domains. Organization theory fosters the relationship between the internal and external environment, enhancing productivity to ensure the sustainability. When an organization considers these major components, it tends to address the areas of weakness that require it to change and adapt partnership strategies to its external environment, which brings about the change process.

In addition to organization theory there is the resource-based theory, which argues that a firm must analyze their resources before crafting strategies for competitive advantage, (Barney, 1991). This theory posits that in order to have competitive advantage against other firms, an organization has to develop unique and non-substitutable resource base that will enable them to be ahead of competitors and craft strategies that will ensure sustainability of the firms in the business environment (Newbert, 2007).

Partners in Community Transformation (PCT), was founded in 2007 with the objectives of enhancing the capacity of communities to assess their strengths, capabilities and resources in order to implement and evaluate interventions to strengthen community leadership, linkages and collaboration between individuals, organizations, and relevant government departments. Partners in Community Transformation has over time received funding from various donors. The organization currently has a five-year funding cycle. After the five years elapse in 2017 the organization may not receive more funding from the major donor (The University of British Columbia, 2016).

This raises the issues on the organization’s sustainability. Some of the challenges that the organization is currently facing are over reliance on private donors and inability to source for other donors. With reduced funding PCT will not be able to run a majority of its projects and programs whose beneficiaries are the most vulnerable population. Moreover, it is experiencing hurdles in implementing some of its partnership strategies; therefore the organization has to device ways to ensure that its programs do not ‘die’ with cessation of funding (Partners In Community Transformation , 2011).

1.2 Statement of Problem

The need for organizations to achieve organizational goals and objectives has never been so urgent than at the moment. The business environment that organizations operate in is highly volatile and demands for different strategies to be adopted to ascertain success (Barney, 2004). For any long-term success to take place in an organization, partnership strategies must be crafted and implemented. Partnership strategies are unique to each organization as organizations are different and face different challenges, and thus there is need for each organization to adopt their own strategies.

Achievement of goals thus becomes a crucial aspect of the organizational strategy and operations when an organization is able to overcome different hurdles of the process that is from crafting, adopting and implementing the different strategies selected and develop new capabilities of tackling the challenges. Rawlings (2010) notes that donor funding is being diverted to other disaster prone areas hence organizations are trying to commercialize activities as they struggle to reduce over dependence on incoming resources. Chumo (2011) also notes that most for PBOs in Kenya are preoccupied with emergencies, diseases, illiteracy and poverty to the extent that long term planning is forgotten. These scholars are in agreement that for organizations to benefit from continued survival they have to be prepared to tackle changes in the environment in which they operate. However, Nidumolu, Pralahad and Rangaswami (2009) assert that sustainability is not easy to achieve.

All organizations require funds to operate and implement their programs and projects and PCT is no exception. PCT is over reliant on donor funding for both programmatic and administrative activities. With donor funding comes restrictions on spending. Donors restrict spending of funds on support service and overhead costs incurred by the organization. The organization must “contribute” these costs, or at least cover an increasing share of these costs overtime (The University of British Columbia, 2016). PCT therefore has limited autonomy and lack the freedom to c select the most effective strategies and program activities to undertake to achieve its vision. This challenges PCT managers to find ways in which to strengthen their financial standing without compromising its mission. They therefore have to device and implement strategies that foster its long-term survival.

Studies have been conducted on the concept of partnership strategies in different contexts. Kramer, (2009) conducted a study on the energy sector New Zealand and concludes that for sustainability to be achieved critical implementation policies should be intergrated into a companies core activities. Gandy, (2015) studied small business strategies for company profitability and sustainability in Colorado, USA. The main findings were that seasonality of business, passion and dedication of managers and proper recruitment of qualified manpower are important to ensure sustainability, while MulabaBafubiandi, (2007) conducted a study at the university of Johannesburg in South Africa and observed that for sustainability the University of Johannesburg must shift its focus from administrative and transactional tasks to transformational activities and remain alert and flexible to market demand and changes.

Gitari, (2006) studied sustainability strateges adopted by Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI) which is a public sector organization funded by the government. However due to reduction in budgetary allocations KARI has systematically instituted several strategies to remain sustainable in the long run. Kanyugo, (2014) conducted a study at Amedo Centres Kenya Limited. Kanyugo observes that when a company adopts strategies that cannot be easily copied by its competitors, competitive advantage is prolonged hence becoming sustainable. These studies have focussed on different organizational strategies however not in the context of for public benefit organizations. Several studies have also been carried out on partnership strategies for public benefit organizations by various researchers including Mbithi, (2010) studied the extent to which community based organizations in Kisumu East District apply Ansoff’s product/market growth strategy this represents a significant conceptual gap that helps inform the current study.

Onsongo, (2012) indicates that there are numerous strategies that organizations can adapt to remain sustainable and step away from reliance on donors. Njoroge, (2012) asserts that there are several factors including unsuitable operations that influence the sustainability of a non-profit organization. Otieno, (2013) studied the partnership strategies adopted by the I-TECH Kenya and his findings outline that the organization is adopting these strategies and as it continues to do so, it faces various challenges that it has to overcome to ensure sustainability.

As much as these studies have given us valuable insights on partnership strategies in different contexts and different levels in public benefit organizations, research has not been carried out to ascertain partnership strategies to be adopted by a local grass root organization, Partners in Community Transformation. This represents a significant contextual knowledge gap. This knowledge gap informs this study on adopting partnership strategy for achieving organizational goal and objectives.

1.3 Research Objectives

The study was based on three main objectives namely:

  1. To establish the partnership strategies adopted by Partners in the organization.

  2. To determine the challenges, the organization faces in adopting the partnership strategies.

  3. To examine the effects of partnership strategies on organizational performance.

1.4 Research Questions

  1. What are the partnership strategies adopted by Partners in the organization?

  2. What are the challenges, the organization faces in adopting the partnership strategies?

  3. What are the effects of partnership strategies on organizational performance?

1.5 Significance of the Study

The sustainability of any organization is crucial and therefore the study findings may be used as a source of reference. Comparisons may be made on the findings with effectiveness of the partnership strategies adopted by other organizations for further study for researchers. Moreover, the study findings will add some knowledge to the existing theory and open up areas for more research. The findings will contribute to generation of knowledge on the partnership strategies employed by non-governmental organizations in order to achieve their mission, objectives and goals resulting into theory building.

The study will also provide insightful information to the management team in its policy formulation and assist in policy development and implementation to take into account new strategic policies on sustainability and also to create knowledge based on the techniques used in crafting and adopting various strategic practices, which help them improve the management and leadership styles to enhance sustainability.

Organizations exist and operate in highly dynamic environments. Most organizations therefore, have to device, develop and implement strategies to guarantee their survival within these environments; similarly non-governmental organizations have to develop strategies to ensure their operations in the long run. It is difficult to meet current program needs with scarce resources that PBOs have. With so many social ills and problems to solve, donors are not able to sustain organizational needs. Furthermore, with population explosion worldwide the number of PBO beneficiaries increases. With these come new social ills that demand urgent financial resources to curb. The study will be important not only to Partners in Community Transformation under study but also other key players in this sector. This will help the organization at large to understand the strategies and policies it should enhance and those it should continue to adopt in order to attract multiple sources of funds.

1.6 Scope of the study

This study is carried out on Adopting Partnership Strategy for achieving Organizational Goal and Objectives. The study is limited to small and medium enterprises in Kaduna state, Nigeria.

1.7 Limitation of the study

The following limitations were anticipated in this study:

  1. Since the study was only carried out in only one province, the results may not be generalisable to the whole country. The researcher collected data on his own without research assistants.

  2. Financial constraints were also anticipated in the current study. Although the researcher received assistance from the bursary, it was not possible to carry out the study at national level.

1.8 Organization of the study

The study is grouped into five chapters. This chapter being the first gives an introduction to the study. Chapter two gives a review of the related literature. Chapter three presents the research methodology; chapter four presents the data analysis as well as interpretation and discussion of the results. Chapter five gives a summary of findings and recommendations.

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