There is no doubt that the modern-day business environment is highly competitive with dynamic consumers and market trends. At the same time, organizations across all industries struggle to gain market share, attain competitiveness and achieve sustainability. Within this context, I assume that conducting studies on non-market strategies and diversification decisions has been vital in understanding how organizations work and how these undertakings can be enhanced. The topic is relevant, from a novel theoretical framework as suggested by Dorobantu, Kaul and Zelner, in order to synthesize streams of non-market research and come to the realization that, in the current business world, the financial gains of any firm relies on the efforts of its strategies both in market strategies as well as non-market strategies. There is accumulating evidence that successful companies are those that work closely on both of these strategic decisions so that they can enhance their relationships in all direct or indirect aspects including their customers, business partners, human resources in addition to environmental and political factors affecting the business. Hence non-market strategies, along with the market strategies, can add value and create significant influence on company results, by enabling positive impact on the company’s profitability and organizational performance. It is almost obvious that non-market strategies have become vital, especially with the increased regulations and government-related pressures on the regulated sectors, that companies need to organize themselves accordingly by closely taking into consideration the fundamental importance of related survival and diversification decisions.
Many companies, along a wide range of industries and institutional set-ups, show commitment to following and studying emerging factors of change in their line of business. The factors that drive change include technological advancements, the ecological scene, and events that occur in the social, economic and political environments. These factors can cause their influence when working inside or outside the organization. Within this perspective, firms compete not only in the market place, but also in several sensitive occasions that can influence the political environment with the aim of manipulating the regulations, laws and other factors that govern the marketplace (Li, Peng, and Macaulay, 2013). Such undertakings, apparently, lead companies to implement non-market strategies, that have become essential for organizations to gain competitive advantage and have got to be relevant issues in strategic management studies. The studies have shown that non-market strategies have primarily been emerging in two parallel strands, namely corporate political activity (CPA) and corporate social responsibility (CSR) strategies, which are, in fact, complimentary in terms of improving the credibility and legitimacy while managing interactions with the political actors. (Mellahi et al., 2015). In the past, non-market strategies were widely ignored due to the fact that more attention was paid to the marketplace interactions while discussing strategic organization. However, eventually, the need for organizations to identify opportunities and manage risks that are presented by the political and social aspects has become obvious as a result of the undeniable impacts of such aspects on their profitability and performance. Additionally, there is the significance of the relationship that exists between policies, business behavior, environmental factors and the performance of the company that makes it necessary for firms to engage in non-market strategies. In this context, both political and environmental factors are referred to as being among the major events and circumstances that give the go-ahead to the firms’ non-market strategies, within which especially CSR related ones are more tended to be extensively made publicly aware as to be benefitted from their PR perspective.
The related literature survey and overview of theory applications to explore the link between non-market strategy and organizational performance reveal five theories, namely agency theory, institutional theory, resource-based view (RBV) of the firm, resource dependence theory (RDT), and stakeholder theory, which are all detected to be complementary while the empirical evidence is found to be supporting RBV, institutional and stakeholder theories as to display positive link between non-market strategy and organizational outcomes. (Mellahi et al., 2015). A firm’s interactions with non-market stakeholders, which are mainly government, non-governmental organizations, social and enviromental activists and local communities, are structured under non-market environment and the above five theories help to explore how firms adopt to external demands, handle institutional pressures, norms, and contradictions while also securing critical resources from major stakeholders. As some resources are both critical and scarce, causing the resource dependence, this status could be reduced by several methods like: a) bridging mechanism, which can be applied by collusion, cartells or including the employees within the system; b) buffering mechanism, of which some ways are stock piling, outsourcing, forecasting or scale adjusting; c) boundary spanning, which can be applied by ways of including certain outside stakeholders, like consumers or suppliers, into the boundaries so that they are encouraged to show loyalty and behave like really being part of the value chain (Oba, 2017).
More contemplating on the agency theory, in which owners are designated as principles and managers as agents, the status of the high level managers and specifically of the CEO in Turkish firms turn out to become “stewardship” as their basic role tends to be managing the family rather than the company; that is why a long-lasting CEO stays with the company regardless of the operational / financial performance as long as he / she successfully performs the task of managing the owner family (Oba, 2017). With regards to further tasks of the people running the organizations, diversification is also one of the primary decisions laid in the hands of these people, who are also expected to be capable of handling the, mostly, sensitive non-market relationships which play a primary role in achieving diversification. That is why, within this sensitivity aspect, perhaps it is the increase in wrong doings and questionable undertakings among some people in leadership positions in various organizations that has initiated management approaches to include ethical codes, for them to guide the decision-making process. As cited by Dorobantu, Kaul and Zelner, the search for gaining competitiveness makes organizations engage in ventures, where the existing legal structures lack adequate protection for the business (Dorobantu et al., (2017, p.121). [??? There is no page 112 in the article??? (112)]. In the same context, disruptive technologies offer new chances for creation of business value, and it might take long before suitable rules are established. The economic restructurings and reforms often create new markets, and the legal provisions favor executives those who are politically connected (Dorobantu et al., (2017, p.128). [??? Can’t see this into on page 114 of this article?? (Dorobantu, Kaul, and Zelner 114???)] (also reflected on the abstract of the paper). In such conditions, managers have a fundamental role in deciding if to engage their approaches in the prevailing organizational environment, offer resources for making improvements or try to change the organization. Suggestively, change management is a fundamental aspect of the modern-day organization and a manager needs to acquire skills and knowledge that facilitate making the right decisions in favor of the organization. Understanding the fundamental aspects of non-market strategies by capable managers is key in these market environments in order to try to solve non-market strategy problems by employing simple strategies. At this point, having the relevant knowledge and the right connections give the managers the capacity to make the optimal choice. me?? Also, the knowledge is fundamental when the optimal choice fails, and there is a need to engage strategies that enable the firm to gain competitive advantage and increase the organizational performance.
Further from the point of view of “new institutional economics”; it is discussed by Dorobantu, Kaul and Zelner that choice of non-market strategies is to be driven by the nature of the institutional environment, of which costs are dealt with the relevant non-market strategies if the rules of the game in a society are well utilized to reduce uncertainty and, hence, costs at least partially (Dorobantu et al., (2017). They have categorized non-market strategies with respect to their strategic intent and governance, in such a way that “independent” and “collaborative” governance aspects have been designated as “adaptive”, “additive” and “transformative”. Under adaptive approach, institutional environment is accepted as given and the firm’s transaction is “internalized”, by putting it within firm’s boundaries, with the aim of reducing the uncertainty risk while also preferring, at certain cases, vertical integration where contract enforcement and /or intellectual property protection is weak. Above mentioned regimes, which possibly create high instuitional costs, somehow push firms to diversify by integrating multiple lines of business, eventually constituting “business groups” which tap growth opportunities by using the cumulating know-how as well as common market access and organizational structure. Such business groups are frequently seen in emerging countries, including Turkey where Koc Group and Is Bank Group are major examples, since referring to such diversification and growth strategies have enabled them to overcome the lack of institutional checks and balances as well as regulatory pressures, mostly caused by political risks which are commonly dealt by non-market strategies facilitating the alignment of incentives between the business group and the external organization while reducing environmental uncertainties (Mellahi et al., 2015).
As we can come up with the proposition that organizations influence their business environment through proactive response with non-market strategies, this aspect can be attributed to the fact that political strategies become opportunities if the firm’s political strategy is compliant with the government and other legal structures. The approach involves the influence of various public and private stakeholders in the business while most research-based arguments have shown that environmental differences, that emerge among countries and regions, have a great impact on the strategic decisions made in an organization (Mellahi et al., 2015). Further to environmental differences, conceptualizing also the different types of economies and how they affect the business in practice to engage in appropriate diversification decisions; studies have been designed to address economies of developed nations, high growth institution-driven emerging economies, emerging economies and high growth factor-driven emerging economies. The resources available in a particular country’s environment determine the national resources, aspects and institutions that affect the business. From this perspective, a company is expected to focus on the market and non-market strategies, as well as organizational diversification approaches, bearing in mind that different environments increase the uncertainties experienced by an organization due to the policies of consumption and production that vary across nations and with time (Kingsley, Vanden Bergh, and Bonardi, 2012). On top of all, it is also essential for managers to understand how the legal aspects shape the company’s market and non-market strategies, while at the same time trying to grasp the potential influence related with technological development and the way manufacturing is conducted in a particular industry. Within the broad context of incorporating most of the major issues cited above, in terms of various types of economies, several available resources, degree of political connectivity as well as capability to handle public and private stakeholders; a relevant example of way of doing business, especially in developing countries like Turkey, would be prevailing tender winning mechanisms, basically the substantial infrastructure tenders of privatization projects, in which certain business groups have been outpacing others due to their close ties to government. At this point, reference to Ayse Bugra’s statement of “uncertainty is basically created by the government”, is of significance I assume, especially within the context of new capitalism along with politics and business relations (Bugra, 2014).
Countries, multinationals, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and multilateral organizations play a key role in bargaining for favorable marketing environments in the international platform. Consequently, the bargaining power of these groups can have an effect on the strategies of the less powerful players in the market on the integration of both international and national policies (Kock and Guillen, 2001). However it is apparent that creation and gradual growth of business based on socioeconomic, geographic, ethnic or religious lines is more of an issue for larger organizations; that is why it is managers of such organizations need to put more effort to understand the differences that exist among the target consumers and the flexibility of the organization in adapting to these factors. Consequently the success of the company is highly linked to the trust they gain from the consumers and the political goodwill they present and convey. Building upon the underlying assumption that non-market strategies are significant in integrating the knowledge of the local environment with the internationally accepted rules, tendencies and norms, larger multinational corporations put effort on effective and critical use of local intermediaries in order to close the gap between the company and the local communities. In the same context and further integration of RBV theory with non-market strategies though facilitating public policy, corporate political ties, firm-level configuration of corporate and political and social environment can be substantiated for the restructuring of the organization strategy as to enable the engagement of experts from the company with the local knowledge so that management risks can be minimized while the company status can be improved in the eyes of the state regulators, who become the critical agencies, especially, at times of uncertainty, i.e. getting a crucial licensing or quality approval or patent registration (Doh, Lawton, and Rajwani, 2012). As cited by Kingsley et.al., with regards to magnitude of regulatory uncertainty; the concept is more critical for the performance of firms particularly in some industries, such as oil, gas, electric, airlines and telecommunications (Kingsley, Bergh, and Bonardi, 2012).
With respect to institutional strategies in emerging markets, organizations are subject to different challenges and opportunities, as stated by Marquis and Raynard, within the highly complex and competitive global economy where they need to implement effective management of socio-political cultural institutions, namely the non-market strategy elements, besides their organizational survival efforts for their marketplace success (Marquis and Raynard, 2015). Emerging economies, characterized by rapid industrialization, economic liberalization and increased integration into global economy, have been in a rapid tendency of catching up with the advanced economies by accounting for nearly half of world GDP and creating a status of “opportunities and necessities” to be handled by developing new theories and strategies in addition to existing ones. One of the new concepts and a very fertile ground to be digged into is the issue of climate change and carbon management, for which linked non-market strategies have changed the competitive field and led to transformations in the business models of some organizations. From this perspective, the studies show that despite the competitive dynamics and stiff regulations that are being adopted across the globe, many organizational strategies appear to engage small investments that are driven by the perception they have of current and future political aspects. Although most organizations have realized the need for non-market strategies for major concerns as climate change, requiring substantial attention and financing needs in emerging countries as well as advanced ones, there is, at the same time, a strong orientation of many companies towards meeting the objectives of shareholders due to the pressure managers get from the investors. Hence stakeholder management, besides collective action and resource dependence, has become a considerably significant issue as part of firms’ institutional strategizing within the framework of their non-market or political strategies which, eventually, might pave the way for their diversification policies, as well, through which firms might capture the opportunity of creating competitive advantage by cleverly integrating such sensitive issues as climate change into their diversification business model and achieving public approval accompanied by other benefits like productivity, profitability, and efficiency along with positive social awareness.
With regards to the diversification strategies of firms, it should be noted that there might be the issue of such strategies to be challenged by the relationship they have with regulators. For a firm to diversify, there is need to limit the challenges posed by regulators. [what is the point in writing this sentence??-“Nevertheless one approach is to overcome the issue related to regulators for a firm to diversify” . The relationship between an organization and the regulating agencies can be hostile, making it difficult to engage in business and gain competitive advantage. The alternative can be engaging non-market strategies such as lobbying, that have a significant influence on the relationships that exist in the market. Where agencies have the responsibility to implement public policies, the organization can lobby the legislature at the governing bod levels instead of changing the business approach. From this perspective, the corporate lobbying can be instrumental in creating value for the company and the non-market strategy can be used in anti-takeover ventures through proactive management activities. For instance, media lobbying can be instrumental in promoting policy change with the support of other players in the industry so that developing such lobbying activities ultimately influence the decisions made by policymakers. The non-marketing strategies, that can be instrumental in this context, include informational lobbying, creating interest groups, contributing to campaigns while at the same time maintaining CSR-CPA complementarity in response to government pressures in order to strengthen a firm’s legitimacy and facilitate inflow of critical government-controlled resources (Mellahi et al., 2015). [what do we mean by “being consistent”??: being consistent and what does “48” stand for as that article ends on pg 31?? (Mellahi et al. 155)]. During the course of the above mentioned non-market strategy applications, it becomes critical to predict regulatory policy uncertainty by integrating the nature of demand-side and supply-side rivalries (Kingsley, Bergh, and Bonardi, 2012). Within this framework, “ideology-motivated” and “efficiency-motivated” opponents have been investigated as opposed to “no competition among political actors” and “competition among political actors”, by Kingsley et al., in order to predict the regulatory uncertainty, for which highest level is detected under ideology-motivated opponents in the context of no or little competition among political actors. Some examples of ideology-motivated market players, in Turkey, might be the cases of Turkcell or number of foreign players in football teams, which could also be considered relevant cases where firms might as well be demanding reasonable level of regulation for the sake of maintaining some standard as to prevent unfair competition (Oba, 2017).
Much of the studies on strategy focus on the industrial organization (IO), within which the review of Porter’s work shows that the industry composition and dynamics have a critical role in helping managers to understand the competitive success of an organization. Despite the fact that Porter’s five-force model lacks to explicitly show the influence governments have, Porter highlights how the government can affect various aspects in gaining competitiveness. Mellahi et al reviews porters work stating that this can explain the various initiatives that highlight the engagement in specific non-marketing strategies ( 157). [what is “60”?? the related article ends at pg 31?? And I cannot find in the article the mentioning about Porter as used above?? (Mellahi et al. 60)]. Subsequently, there are valuable insights that managers can utilize in making diversification decisions using the model. For instance, the government can create barriers that manipulate or prevent the entry of new companies into the market so that with such undertakings, domestic companies are protected from facing considerable competition from new entrants. Nevertheless, Porter also acknowledged that the government has a role in stimulating and supporting the development of various industries to help companies achieve national and global competitiveness Ramaswamy, Purkayastha, and Petitt (11) adresses these sentiments through their review, stating that institutional reforms instigated by the government require diachronic model of organizational change Arguably, the diversification decision should consider the contribution that governments in a particular region have made to improve the market conditions as well as the performance of the companies involved. The public policy employed, the existing and future regulations, as well as social preferences can influence the overall attractiveness of a market and the competitive aspects and dynamics of the industry. Developing specific lobbying groups can be instrumental in overcoming the uncertainties and liabilities associated with a particular industry. Since business groups operate in environments where both market as well as non-market institutions are crucial, Ramaswamy et.al. discusses about the importance of understanding how business groups leverage non-market institutions to their advantage while also incorporating political economy and organization theory.
The non-market strategies highlight that governments, activists and the media are also capable of holding organizations accountable for the social consequences of their actions. [I do not see the point in writing this sentence?? : Despite this, they remain inescapable priorities for business leaders in various countries because non-market strategies are imperative for the success of the business in such regions.] Additionally, the shifts in consumer behavior show that there is increased loyalty for companies that show more concern for social issues; hence many organizations have made corporate social responsibility (CSR) a key aspect of their strategic approach to business and competitive advantage. Integrating CSR into corporate strategies enables the use of non-market strategies, displaying the evidence of companies’ making social contributions with the obvious awareness that it is the ethical thing to do by giving back to the society of consumers who make the company profitable. From a strategic perspective, engaging in CSR non-market strategies offers an organization the opportunity to benefit from being viewed as a good corporate entity, as previously mentioned above. Dorobantu et al. reviews that many activities undertaking in the CSR can be perceived as proactive activities (122). Subsequently, organizations that adopt CSR engage in sustainable resource practices, socially responsible activities and other initiatives to share value with the main stakeholders of the organization with the perception that such undertakings will be financially rewarded. Further reviews of Dorobantu et al. shows that these proactive behaviors in CSR can be rewarded through reduced labor costs, premium prices, lower capital costs, insurance against adverse business conditions, cooperation among stakeholders, better reputation, and competitive advantage in the future (122).
As for investigating some similar country approaches to business systems, incorporating non-market strategies for diversification purposes; Turkey shows similar characteristics to South Korean government functioning especially with respect to government’s dominant role in distributing several concessions to certain groups, known as being close to the government, but also for gaining economies of scale. Similar convergence among developing countries have, over the years, emphasized the critical government role for capital accumulation by creating competitive advantage besides growth and differentiation opportunities for “certain” companies (Oba, 2017). Within this context, strategic alliances, vertical integration and horizontal diversification can be cited as growth strategies; within which vertical integration enables firms to further invest by staying within the same sector while more horizontal investment brings with it the diversification into various related/unrelated sectors. As for strategic alliance, equity investment is not involved as growth/diversification is created by agreements, which also connects us to network theory, where mergers & acquisitions are also tools for growth. Diversification concept resembles the holding structure of big business groups, as Koc and Sabancı in Turkey, which collects related and unrelated business functions under their umbrella holding entity. Considering Koç Group, with nearly 55 different corporate entities which have different shareholders at the single company level while having the common shareholder structure at the Holding level, which in fact does not have any discrete functions or production facilities but providing common / shared HR policies and legal office, financing needs and group strategy at the top level.
Despite the constructive role of non-market strategies on diversification decisions, its effect can as well be counterproductive. From this perspective, two key themes might emerge: First is that non-market strategies can pit the company against the society when the two are supposed to be interdependent. Second, the use of non-market strategies makes companies think in a generic way instead of taking an approach that is appropriate for the individual business strategy. In this light, a company can be committed to the application of non-market strategies to the point that they are disconnected from the market strategy and their benefit for the society. The insights from this are that managers and companies can analyze the opportunities for social legitimacy, with the same effort they engage in key business choices. They can put the business in a stronger position to venture appropriately in a market and non-market initiatives. Diversification decisions are subject to the integration of these activities. For managers to make good diversification decisions, they need to understand the relationship that exists between the business and the society, and how it might increase the risks of growth and social welfare as well as being aware of the safe way to treat non-market strategies as supplementary activities. It is also important not to ignore the fact that there is a darker side of the non-market strategies that may include corruption and immoral practices at the corporate level as well as managerial level. In this context, the activities carried out in non-market strategies can be extreme in nature as organizations and leaders try to gain market share. Consequently, the undertakings can range from legal forms, such as lobbying to illegal approaches such as bribing. Dishonesty and exploitation in non-market strategies can have tremendous consequences in diversification.
The social-economic conditions exhibited by various regions, countries and communities where organizations operate and where they focus on expanding their business poses key challenges for multinationals. Subsequently, the companies have to earn the trust and political goodwill from the different consumers that often portray informal links. The diversification is facilitated by engaging local intermediaries and other partners such as community organizations, NGOs and government agencies. These undertakings are critical for the survival of the company in the process of diversification. The role of NGOs in the business environment cannot be estimated as they have become key players in the political arena. According to Mellahi et al the ability of an organization to develop and engage non-market strategies is influenced by pressures from social actors such as NGOs (162). The reason behind this is their ability to engage in collective action through NGO coalitions or multi-stakeholder ventures that can lead to legitimization or delegitimization of particular nonmarket practices used by an organization.
In analyzing the diversification process under big holding / business groups, which are defined, by Khanna and Rivkin, as a set of firms, though legally independent bound together by informal ties and accustomed to take coordinated actions, the point of focus is the “scope”, but not the economies of scale (Oba, 2017). Going through the Ansolf Matrix of strategic choices; diversification involves entering a new market segment with a new product, for which relevant investment for new product development have been undertaken. Out of the emerging market examples of several business groups, some are Japanese “keiretsu”, Korean “chaebol”, bank-centered industrial groups in Germany, business houses in India or family holdings in Turkey which all show the common characteristics of having grown rapidly through diversification, having some degree of managerial coordination and ownership ties, mostly greenfield rather than acquisition and having moved into separate industries without following an orderly pattern. One outstanding example of successful Turkish family holding is Koc Group have taken major investment and divestment decisions over the course of time, one which was exiting from the retail sector by selling its supermarket chain of Migros while entering the very critical energy sector by buying Tupras from the privatization tender. As most of the other family holdings in Turkey, Koc Group ownership structure is also nearly 55% family stake at the top holding headquarter level, displaying the entrenchment structure of keeping the revenue within the family with the aim of creating a higher ROA. Since the institutional setting, namely the capital markets, in Turkey is not developed and deep enough in terms of liquidity, corporations do not force themselves to outperform in the stock market with the background fact that they can easily provide equity from the family though entrenchment.
Another significant aspect of the business and capital markets setting in Turkey, actually in a similar manner to many other developing economies and within the context of political economy, is that as the political power, namely the prevailing government changes, the capital accumulation also changes hands creating new powerful and wealthy business groups. This type of structural and functioning background necessitates the effective utilization of non-market strategies, within the right context of regulatory measures, legal background, and the role of the government (Oba, 2017). The value of diversification is to be assessed in terms of scope, at this point, by taking two criteria into consideration, namely: a) making sure to create economies of scope when realizing a new investment so that the existing resources are wisely used in the new investment; b) focal firm having cost advantage over the outside equity holders and under the assumption that full capacity functioning is achieved for mass production within the economies of scope. Again in relation to the political economy setting, it should be noted that such risk diversification decisions are taken at the expense of unrelated diversification risk, which is widely undertaken under family holding structures in Turkey, while such structure simultaneously provides tax optimization as well. As to conclude with the types of scope; operational, financial and anticompetitive economies of scope are all achieved in the forms of shared activities, shared core competencies, intended capital allocation by taking diversification discount into account, risk reduction, tax advantage, multi-point competition and finally exploiting market power. While taking all the relevant decisions with respect to above listed points, the ultimate fact of selection environment should always be taken into account since population ecology would, at the end, be the determining factor for success due to the limited resource and capacity environment which has also been evaluated by Schumpeter in the scope of his innovation theories that underlines technological unemployment due to paradox between creative destruction and innovation.
The diversification decision is key to the profitability and sustainability of an organization. The review of the course materials offers fundamental knowledge in understanding the effects of non-market strategies in the success of the company in new markets or competitive environments. The non-market strategies differ considerably as they are influenced by various factors within and outside the organization, including costs, availability of resources, the attitude the management has towards environmental protection, the shareholders, external institutional forces, the competition in the target market, investors, social aspects of the target consumers and regulatory factors.
According to Kock and Guillen, Schumpeter raised the ideology that economic development is driven by innovative entrepreneurship (86). On the same note, the authors allude that innovation entails combining existing materials and forces to produce other things or same things from a different approach. The impact of non-market strategies in the diversification of companies can be addressed by focusing on the type of industry and the country involved. The concept raised by Kock and Guillen show that the country can be early developing or late developing, while the industry can be infant or mature (89). The interactions of these factors show that infant industries in early developing countries face challenges in innovation and those in late developing countries might find it difficult to innovate due to the overall lower capacity level, making it easy for entrepreneurs to penetrate the market. Kock and Guillen review of mature industries show that operations in early developing countries are characterized by the availability of skills from other industries and an experienced workforce that mediate the weaknesses of important industries (89). For the late developing countries, the domestic entrepreneurs are overwhelmed, leading to high challenges in innovation. Regimes that do not facilitate cooperation between foreigners and private entities with local entrepreneurs, as well as those with widespread corruption and abuse of individual rights, make it difficult to engage in innovation (Kock and Guillen 88). The insights from this review support the ideology that innovation requires business organizations to be proactive in diversification decisions. It requires managers to understand the underlying factors that limit innovation and how the existing forces can be integrated to exploit new markets and opportunities. The use of RBV allows managers to identify resources that advocate for competitive advantage in various situations (Kock and Guillen 86). The use of non-market strategies coupled with other strategic approaches are a key consideration when making effective diversification decisions.
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