Competitive advantage is a concept maintaining critical importance to organizations around the world desiring to maintain relevance and profitability. In reality, these concepts have escaped the boundaries associated with the for-profit corporate world and now include less traditional market participants from the non-profit and government ranks. As more and more industries explore potential expansion with a struggling economy impacting charitable donations and individual departments within all divisions of government competing for constantly eroding public funding, the maintenance of competitive advantage can literally become the difference between life and death for all organizations (Grant, 2011)
Perhaps more than any other time in the history of the United States, the current social, cultural, and political trends present within every facet of society are in a state of constant flex and upheaval. Concepts unimaginable within the recent past are becoming more and more commonplace, as previous foes become friends and public institutions fight for credibility. In some portions of society, facts have become open to interpretation and spin appears to be the foundation for the story, with the who, what, when, where, and why becoming the seasoning for entertainment programs presented as news, while the masses gain their knowledge of current events through the exchange of viral electronic messages and social media memes (Flanagin & Metzger, 2014). As such, the most frequent trends displayed within organizations of all types is that identified trends, standards, and recent cultural norms accepted as common knowledge or customary practices all have the ability to change without notice and traverse a path in any direction to destinations previously believed highly unlikely, if not impossible (Goldberg, 2016). Wide swathes of individuals crossing every possible demographic imaginable embrace concepts blindly, without evidence, and while ignoring mountains of historical precedent that contradicts every facet of the perspective being shared with them without hesitation or any measure of suspicion. While this concept has been evolving over time, it appears to have reached a pinnacle of sorts during the last several years, culminating in a willingness to accept even the most outlandish accounts without any concern for validity, credibility of source, or desire to investigate further (Collier, Ordeshook, & Williams, 1989).
This reality places all organizations within the uncomfortable position of having to protect their position within the market place from both real and imagined threats which can develop through a targeted campaign from a motivated competitor trying to increase their own presence within the industry, or a bored teenager curious to see how far they can take a story they have fabricated. In fact, these practices have become so common and the electorate, stakeholder group, and customer base in the United States so willing to accept stories that confirm the way they believe the world to be, that an entire fake news industry has developed around the world, blossoming especially effectively in the Balkans, with some Macedonia teenagers earning more than 25 times the average salary through advertising on their clickbait polls and fabricated news sites (Byrne, 2016).
This social, cultural, and political devolvement requires leaders to maintain a vigilant eye toward all potential strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats their organizations may face while developing a strategic method for addressing these issues that does not increase the likelihood of attacks by challenging the ‘Veles’. Staying abreast of these developments and the future trends that may spin out of the technology, which continues to outpace the laws of most nations and elude the knowledge of most nation’s citizens places additional stress upon business in general and demands yet another skill set from leaders (Grover, 2016).
Addressing the topic of organizational structure requires one to review sources providing a myriad of examples of the most common (insert values ranging from 3 to 30) types of structures with an equal or higher number of recommendations regarding the most effective of the recommended positions While many industries have traversed the path from traditional hierarchy to a flatter, more collaborative environment over the last several decades, the most effective method of organizational structure still requires a substantial amount of context to travel beyond the statement that the best organizational structure for a particular business is the one that happens to be the most effective organizational structure for that particular agency (Lorenzi & Riley, 1995). No particular style will remain effective for all organizations in all environments and all stakeholders, especially given the rapidly changing landscape faced as a result of globalization, financial crises, and political turmoil rivaling any time period within the recent or distant past (Porter, 1990).
Depending on the particular organization’s position within the market place and relative competitive advantage or lack thereof, the structure employed by agency leaders may vary at times and evolve as presence and success increase. Likewise, contraction may also be necessary based on market contractions, seasonal variances, and other factors deemed relevant by those challenged with organizational operations. Fostering an atmosphere of loyalty by relevant stakeholders help shape the future of the business and provide opportunities for adjusting the structure as needed to make the organization, division, team, or individual employee more responsive to the needs of their customers at the most appropriate and effective levels (Huangfu, Jiang, & Zhang, 2013).
While no individual decision making process could possibly provide an all encompassing methodology to assure competitive advantage within all industries and operations, common sense suggests the acquisition, collection, analysis, and effective dissemination of information to relevant parties in a timely fashion is one of the most important basic tenets of any successful organizations (Gibcus & Van Hoesel, 2015). This information needs to be placed into a useable form by individuals who comprehend the context associated with the data when framed against the backdrop and driving force of tactical objectives and mission critical goals. With this analysis complete, competitive advantage is maintained by adopting an organizational structure that provides effective oversight, resource allocation, and adequate authority to leaders and other relevant employees to make decisions that are in the best interest of the organization and prevent the loss of opportunity because of unnecessary bureaucracy (Lorenzi & Riley, 1995).
Maintaining competitive advantage in any industry requires a learning organization filled with leaders and other relevant stakeholders keenly aware of the fact that resting on one’s laurels is perhaps the most effective way to lose market share, customers, and perhaps the future of the organization. In an environment of rapidly changing social, cultural, and political trends that have essentially rendered irrelevant much of the established knowledge and accepted social norms, an even more comprehensive skill set is needed by organizations as a whole. A comprehensive information management program monitoring events while providing real time constant information flows that monitor customer expectations, needs, and satisfaction with existing operations to a talented, empowered, and diverse work force is crucial for maintaining competitive advantage in both local and global markets (Ghamari, 2012)
Byrne, A. (2016, December 15). Macedonia’s fake news industry sets sights on Europe. Retrieved from https://www.ft.com/content/333fe6bc-c1ea-11e6-81c2-f57d90f6741a
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Flanagin, A., & Metzger, M. J. (2014). Digital media and perceptions of source credibility in political communication. Oxford Handbooks Online. doi:10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199793471.013.65
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Huangfu, G., Jiang, D., & Zhang, G. (2013). From organizational commitment to organizational loyalty: The concept and structures of Chinese organizational loyalty. Advances in Psychological Science, 21(4), 711-720. doi:10.3724/sp.j.1042.2013.00711
Lorenzi, N. M., & Riley, R. T. (1995). Operating in different organizational structures. Organizational Aspects of Health Informatics, 53-74. doi:10.1007/978-1-4757-4184-1_4
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