A work course on strategic management, in particular, strengthening this organizational approach, is a significant aspect of control over business activities. About the Marlands Shopping Center, this company adheres to a dynamic policy of interaction with consumers and seeks to establish productive sales by engaging the target audience constantly. However, in the context of standard business principles and a classical investment model, the threats of competitors’ advantages and the loss of profits due to outdated approaches to organizing activities grow.
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To ensure the stable operation of the retail business in question and eliminate the risks associated with other participants in this market segment, introducing modern and advanced strategies is essential. As a suitable business development methodology at the Marlands Shopping Center, implementing corporate social responsibility (CSR) principles can be a successful intervention. The analysis of this approach in the context of individual business strategies may allow determining the value of this methodology about ensuring a sustainable business. The implementation of relevant CSR practices is important for creating a reliable market background and recognition among the consumer audience due to well-chosen and socially-oriented development steps.
Task Background and Context
The Marlands Shopping Center is one of Southampton’s well-known retailers providing its services to a wide range of clients. At the same time, according to Dover (2019) who analyses trading activities based on Mintel reports, during special sales and holidays, many centers offer topical discount and bonus programs for customers. Such an outcome can be threatening for the Marlands Shopping Center business because the inability to satisfy consumer needs and ensure pricing at the level of competitors is fraught with falling demand. In this regard, there is an increasing need to develop a sustainable business development program to maintain stable sales and customer interest. As Engert, Rauter, and Baumgartner (2016) note, strategic management may be a significant strategy that, in addition to its advantages, involves conducting business in better and more favorable conditions compared to those of competitors. The threats of falling demand and profit loss explain the need for conducting appropriate interventions and developing relevant principles of market activity for the organization under consideration. These tasks suit the business profile of the enterprise and may allow directing the retailer’s work in a strategically necessary direction.
As a potentially successful intervention methodology, CSR practice will be used as a basic approach to business planning at the Marlands Shopping Center, along with other possible strategic solutions. Chaudhri (2016, p. 422) states that, in the context of interaction with stakeholders, “CSR, fundamentally, is about the mutually respectful, dialogic, and values-based relationships”. This approach to organizing business activity implies addressing crucial social issues that, given the current situation, require increased attention. Based on the report by Dover (2019), one can argue that the value of money does not become a priority when it is possible to influence consumer behavior and regulate demand. Due to effective practices for solving acute problems that may be of global importance, companies can gain market credibility and recognition. According to Chaudhri (2016), value creation is one of the most significant advantages that the implementation of the CSR approach can provide as part of a business plan. Therefore, the use of this methodology as an object of analysis about individual strategic choices can be a useful and effective activity.
To analyze the role of CSR in the activities of the retailer in question, it is essential to consider the significance of this methodology in several strategic choices. As a basic approach to organizing effective customer retention and overcoming market competition, such frameworks will be reviewed as a generic business strategy, corporate strategy, international strategies and mergers, acquisitions, and alliances. Each of these choices is characterized by unique approaches to creating a productive structure of strategic management. The implementation of a CSR system about these principles may allow assessing the relevance of a particular development path and determining how successful specific interventions can be in the business environment under consideration.
Generic Business Strategy
When applying CSR to the generic business strategy of the Marlands Shopping Center, one can note that the significance of the former approach is not to maintain shared value orientations but to change them. As Chen et al. (2018) argue, the principle of CSR cannot be considered in a generic framework since such a business format implies introducing unique solutions that can change work directions and determine development steps in a new way. In case the retailer in question is involved in relevant social work, for instance, helping environmentalists and fund donating, this will reorganize many areas of activity, including investment and budgeting. The management will need to implement an additional action plan that will involve the Marlands Shopping Center in a social program. This, in turn, can be challenging in the context of traditional and generic business policies. Moreover, as Witek-Hajduk and Zaborek (2016) remark, although strategic management and CSR are in close contact, firms promoting the principles of social responsibility need to revise their business models. Accordingly, the implementation of the CSR program in a given environment may be stressful and expensive.
Implementing the CSR approach as part of a corporate business strategy is an easier task because, unlike the traditional generic model, this mode of operation implies more flexibility. Gazzola and Colombo (2015, p. 26) argue that “CSR should be aligned with the company’s specific corporate objectives and core competencies” to achieve the best performance. Since the management of the Marlands Shopping Center intends to continue to penetrate the market and struggle with competitive enterprises actively, the CSR system should be accompanied by the program of goods diversification. According to Johnson et al. (2014), this measure may help solve potential challenges with investing in new areas and, at the same time, maintain stable demand, thereby preventing any risky activity. In this context, it is essential to determine to which direction of CSR the Marlands Shopping Center will adhere. Gazzola and Colombo (2015) present five basic strategies – defensive, charitable, systemic, innovative, and dominant. For the enterprise in question, a systemic approach may be most appropriate because this principle involves participating in social issues and, at the same time, does not imply changes in companies’ internal development strategies.
If the management of the Marlands Shopping Center plans to expand the business and enter the global market by promoting international development strategies, the implementation of the CSR approach may have some limitations. In particular, while analyzing the business sphere of individual states, Kolk (2016) argues that there are jurisdictions in which the steps of social responsibility are restricted by the internal laws of countries. This, in turn, may cause fines and warnings from consumer unions and other boards that control the activities of municipal and private trade organizations. Lopatta, Jaeschke, and Chen (2017) note that government intervention can often be a mandatory procedure when business firms promoting individual initiatives to address pressing social issues. The authors clarify that the outcome of this interaction is the most tangible “in countries with more stakeholder engagement” (Lopatta, Jaeschke & Chen 2017, p. 199). When taking into account all the drivers, including market, cost, and competitive ones, for the Marlands Shopping Center, it will not be easy to overcome trade barriers quickly. This will take time for the company to promote itself in an international environment.
Mergers, Acquisitions, and Alliances
Implementing a CSR strategy as part of a business policy involving mergers, acquisitions or alliances may be successful for the Marlands Shopping Center, but several conventions are to be followed. According to Johnson et al. (2014), companies entering into a single trading system receive many significant economic advantages, in particular, financial and tax efficiency. However, at the same time, the ambitions of an individual organization can affect the success of cooperation negatively and lead to short-term success. Park, Meglio, and Schriber (2019) argue that companies with high CSR indicators and involved in joint ventures through mergers or acquisitions can benefit stakeholder loyalty significantly, thereby achieving sustainable market growth. Nevertheless, Arouri, Gomes, and Pukthuanthong (2019, p. 177) mention the neoclassical business paradigm theory and note that alliances involving CSR initiatives may be unsustainable due to “a waste of valuable resources”. In the case of the Marlands Shopping Center that is experiencing difficulties due to high competition, the assistance of allied organizations could be relevant, but the need to spend more funds on maintaining a sustainable business complicates the task of potential mergers or acquisitions.
Evaluation of the Proposed Outcomes
When analyzing the potential impact of CSR and the current business strategy supported by the Marlands Shopping Center on its strategic management, one can argue that the corporate principle of work is the most convenient. In particular, its systemic approach studied by Gazzola and Colombo (2015) can be implemented successfully due to the lack of the need to promote significant changes within the organization. As part of the other aforementioned strategies, the company will act less efficiently because it will have to make additional efforts and review financial, legal, and other aspects of market activity. Following the corporate approach is a simple and, at the same time, effective solution since, as Johnson et al. (2014) note, an organization following this principle of work distributes all budget funds independently. This, in turn, allows managers to invest in specific social areas without fear of the loss of profit and decreased consumer demand. The Marlands Shopping Center will not have to depend on the laws of other countries or the opinions of potential partners. Therefore, such a strategy is optimal and may be utilized as a productive background for implementing CSR practices.
For the heads of the Marlands Shopping Center to implement strategic management provisions as efficiently as possible, a competent combination of the CSR approach with specific business policies should be maintained. The company can achieve high market authority if its activities are recognized as important not only in the context of the business sector but also the social one. Searching for steps to overcome a competitive barrier should be accompanied by assessing potential interventions in other sectors. The choice of a specific CSR strategy should depend on several criteria, including such factors as financial strength, the presence of partner contacts, and other nuances. In addition, the Marlands Shopping Center needs to assess which areas of influence deserve attention to invest and address specific problems without harming the core business. Establishing communication with government boards can also be a productive initiative. If the authorities are aware of the significant social activities carried out by the organization, this will make them more loyal to the company’s activities and its market interests. Thus, identifying the sectors for implementing the CSR program and maintaining partnerships are valuable recommendations for the enterprise’s business.
In the organization in question, the introduction of an appropriate CSR program along with relevant business strategies can help promote the company in the market and help it overcome a competitive barrier. By analyzing the available working principles and combining entrepreneurship practices, it was found that the corporate strategy is the most favorable for the Marlands Shopping Center because, with this mode of operation, socially-oriented activities do not imply significant changes within the organization. Other strategic choices may require additional investment and revising current budgeting conditions. As for recommendations, choosing the right CSR plan and building productive relationships with stakeholders, including government boards, are important initiatives to maintain a sustainable business.
Arouri, M, Gomes, M & Pukthuanthong, K 2019, ‘Corporate social responsibility and M&A uncertainty’, Journal of Corporate Finance, vol. 56, pp. 176-198.
Chaudhri, V 2016, ‘Corporate social responsibility and the communication imperative: perspectives from CSR managers’, International Journal of Business Communication, vol. 53, no. 4, pp. 419-442.
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