Strategic and Planning Management Assignment help on : Strategic Planning of Amnesty International
“Strategy is the direction and scope of an organization over the long term, which achieves advantages for the organization through its configuration of resources within a challenging environment to meet the needs of markets and to fulfill stakeholders’ expectations”(Johnson, Scholes and Whittington, 2006).
While devising any strategy, an organization should:
- Keep close eye on long term goals,
- Focus on the market potential,
- Search for better opportunities and efficient resources,
- Do optimal resource utilization,
- Realize core competencies
- Make future plans accordingly and
- Meet stakeholder’s expectations.
This essay will present the case of a famous international NGO, Amnesty International, with regard to its strategic planning.
NGOs /NPOs are undergoing a great change since last decade. Though these are growing in numbers; there are various issues relating to structuring and reorganization. The worrying factor with NGOs is that only a few reach higher scale while most of them die in their infancy only. Main reasons are lack of funds, insufficient support and ineffective work by volunteers. Problems crop up when NGOs turn to profit making thereby losing the confidence among people. This breach of trust reduces their donations, grants and benefits thus landing them into trouble.
Amidst this background, we have presented a thorough case study of AI. It will enable you to understand the environment in which NGO’s operate, the risk they may face and the planning they do to survive and make differences in the lives of the people. Different issues related to strategic management have been discussed in detail to provide a good insight about NGO’s modus operandi.
Before moving further, let’s have a brief discussion on the organization itself.
1. About Amnesty International
Amnesty international is a renowned INPO working to promote and protect human rights. Having the support of massive 3 million people, it is working in around 150 countries with a vision to make every person enjoy its human rights as declared in Universal Declaration.
It was established in 1961.Since then it’s fighting against human rights violations and trying to garner public support to pressurize governments to impart justice to the people.
Main goals of the organization are as follows:
- Eradicating death sentence
- Regulating arms trade
- Abolishing violence against women
- Defending the dignity and rights of the poor
- Defending freedom of expression
Before delving into strategic plans and management of the NGO, it’s must to do a detailed study of its external environment. The study of external environment is needed to understand trends, opportunities, threats and other prevailing issues.
2. External Environment: An Analysis
As this is an international NGO, external environment can be broadly divided into:
- Macro environment
- Micro environment
These factors can affect the organization in both ways, positive or negative(Klaus Boas, 1999). Let’s have a look at these in detail.
2.1. Macro Environment
The macro dimensions of an NGO can be analyzed into six major parts( (Jeffs, 2008):
Out of these six, major ones affecting the Amnesty group are as follows:
As this organization is financedby members and doesn’t take any help from Governments and Governmental organizations, it is less influenced by political factors. It tries to remain aloof from political parties and doesn’t intervene in Governments’ decisions.
However, it can’t remain completely away from Government as it has to take decisions as per the norms of different political ideologies across countries. As it has to work for the betterment of people, garnering public opinion and political support is must to achieve long term goals.
The focus areas of Amnesty international are: Minorities, Women and Children.
Different countries have different benefits, rules and regulations driving these sections of society. This may raise the situation of conflict but the group tries to influence governments to impart justice to the people.
In 1980s, this group was highly criticized by the Governments. USSR imposed various allegations and it was banned by the government of Argentine(annual report,1983). Still it continued its campaign of protecting human rights throughout the decade Also, it handled the issues affecting refugees very effectively.
In short, Amnesty International deals with different political situation at times but doesn’t lose its vision and mission of protecting human rights.
Social dimensions refers to cultural values, norms, religious beliefs and taboos( (voiceof marketer, 2012). As stated earlier, Amnesty international is working in around 150 countries. Each country is guided by different social norms and beliefs leading to complexities and possibilities of conflict.
Major countries having presence of this group include United States, India, Indonesia, Turkey, Israel, Uniked Kingdom etc. There is a colossal difference in the thinking and perception of people in these countries.
Some countries are developed enough and people have neutral thinking towards women and minorities. At the same time, minorities and women are vulnerable in some parts of the world and society is guided by old norms and beliefs( (Campbell, 2009). Sometimes, people show resistance and reluctance to ‘change’ thus making the task of NGO quite difficult.
In short, we can say that the group is operating under social complexities and it’s up to it how it uses its strengths to bring about a positive change in the world.
Amnesty international aims to strengthen the legal enforcement of social, economic and cultural rights. There are a lot of countries in the world where these rights are not recognizable and enforceable by law.
These situations may crop up legal and constitutional issues at times. However, an Option Protocol was adopted by UN General Assembly to set up an international mechanism to impart justice and protect these rights if these are violated at the domestic level ((Goel, 2004).
Several other conventions have been passed thus reducing legal issues. Still, issues crop up but the group shows perseverance and patience to achieve justice for people of countries where it operates.
Macro environment poses risks as well as threats for the group( (Freeman, 2010). Risks include:
- Social unrest
- Unfavorable rules and regulations
- legal complexities
- loss of volunteers
There may be different opportunities like:
- Incentives to NGOs
- Favorable government’s laws
- People’s support
- Improvement in infrastructure
- increase in tasks and social service by NGO
In nutshell, Macro environment highly affects the working of NGO. As Amnesty group is operating under somewhat complex environment, realization of competencies is a must to stick to the cause it has undertaken. The core competencies of the group will be discussed later in this essay in detail.
2.2. Micro Environment
Micro environment is made with the people and things that are in direct contact with organizations( (Barry J. Witcher, 2010). For Amnesty, micro environment is composed of:
- Members and volunteers
- People it work for like women, minorities, refugees, children, POWs etc.
Micro environment also affects it directly. For example, good work by volunteers and positive support will lead to an effective and efficient work.
We can say that the group is operating under a favorable micro environment as the numbers of volunteers is growing and people are appreciating the work done. It is because of this support and cooperation that the organization (founded in 1961) is a big name in the field of human rights and has awarded with prestigious titles.
In next section of the essay, we will identify core competencies and discuss why these competencies are specific to this group.
3. Core Competencies
Core competencies are strengths of an organization specific to it( (Hill and Jones, 2012). This idea has been developed and promoted by G Hamel and C K Prahalad in a series of business books.
These are the capabilities that help any business and organization to achieve competitive advantage (Fran Ackermann, 1998). For example, an electronic manufacturer may develop special expertise in design. A software company may develop competency in simplicity of software it develops. Volunteer base may serve as a competency of a not-for-profit organization.
Let’s have a look at the core competencies of Amnesty International.
In a days’ where NPOs are being looked at with suspicion, the massive support of around 3 million members is definitely a plus for AI. The recognition it enjoys and the work it does; rarely not-for-profit organizations go up to that level. AI boasts of having the longest history and the broadest name among bunch of organizations.
Thus, the power of human resource is definitely specific with AI. Nowadays, when HR managers and executives are facing voluntary turnover; this much massive support by volunteers is enough to fulfill mission and the vision.
AI doesn’t face any major funding issues. A major part of the finance comes from volunteer groups. In addition, members, public organizations and other trusts donate a large sum of money that makes it easier to carry on the functions without hiccups.
These days when many NGOs are struggling with lack of funding and grants, AI ‘s strong financial position is a big strength indeed!
It’s quite difficult to get worldwide brand recognition for an organization; especially if it is an NPO/NGO. As we have discussed, NGOs operate in complex external environment, many of these leave their mission and vision in between.
Amidst this scenario, the recognition gained by AI is definitely a grand success and its core competency. It should also increase its presence further to have a more say in human rights issues.
So, these were some distinct strengths being enjoyed by the Amnesty International. It’s widening its scope and functional area and working successfully to protect violation of human rights. All this has become possible because of the effective management and right decisions taken. Let’s have a look the choices it made that contributed to this grand success.
4. Strategic Choices of Amnesty International
Strategic decision-making plays an important role in the success of any organization. This is the task of senior management to decide about the ways objectives will be achieved, devise alternative ways of fulfilling the objectives and choosing the best one among these( (Srinivasan, 2008).
By nature, it’s difficult to take strategic choices. The main emphasis of strategic choice remains on the adoption of ‘right course of action’ (Kazmi, 2011). What are our goals?, what should be our goals?, how should we pursue to achieve aims and objectives? are some of the basic questions related to strategic management.
Choices should be rational, creative, and variable. Main strategic choices of AI are as follows:
The key areas of AI are women, children, refugees, minorities, prisoners of war and other people who are facing violation of human rights. AI has chosen this area because there are many complexities involved related to human rights. Some countries recognize it while others don’t. AI believes that these are fundamental rights of human beings and any violation should be addressed seriously.
Choosing human rights issues have become beneficial for the organization as it gives wider scope to work. There are lots of issues pertaining to human rights across the globe especially with regard to women and minorities. History says that AI has effectively handled those cases and has got many international awards for the effective work.
The organization enjoys a global presence. Presently, it is working in more than 150 countries including developed and emerging ones(. Though this wider presence sometimes increases complexities, it has proved an opportunity also. It has generated more support and memberships for the organization thus increasing its say in international affairs.
In contrast to most of the NGO’s, AI has accepted technological and other changes whenever required. In 2008, a mobile donating campaign was launched in U.S. allowing the members to make donations through text messages. Also, it’s agenda is to take up the challenges and risks posed by globalization and other economic changes across the world.
Thus, AI has chosen to remain ‘open’ for changes. Though it makes the organization more vulnerable to risks but increases its internal strength also.
Government: A non-player
AI doesn’t accept donations from the governments; it has accepted grants (to some extent) though( (ngo-monitor, 2011). Donations are mostly gifts in kind but grants are the funds released by businesses, educational institutions, corporate organizations, governments and other parties for specific purpose.
Non acceptance of donations from governments is a wise decision as this keeps AI independent from political ideologies and other economic interests. It mostly takes help from businesses.
As we have discussed, strategic choices regarding course of action, functions to perform, areas to focus have been taken quite judiciously by the organization. However, decisions are not absolutely perfect and there is still a room for improvement. There have been many occasions when AI has been criticized as a ‘biased’ organization. History says that some governments even banned it. All this shows that AI needs a change to an extent. Let’s discuss about the strategy it can adopt and changes it requires.
5. The Road Ahead
There are various criticisms including high payment for managers, biased foreign policy, bad conditions of overseas workers, and abortion related ideology.
The governments of US, Russia, China have complained that AI is a biased organization and doesn’t look to any situation with multi pronged approach. However, we should not forget these governments have disturbing human rights issues and AI has done a great deal in publicizing those concerns.
Still, it should not take biased approach and keep neutrality as far as foreign policy is concerned.
Also, it should increase its presence further in more countries. This will generate more support and funds for the organization. As obvious from the past cases, it focuses more on countries that are renowned for human rights violation. It should pep up efforts in other countries also.
Methods adopted by the organization to achieve aims are also limited. It relies on campaigning, strikes, letter writing etc( (Amnesty, 2011). It should adopt more of technological changes and resort to better methods. As stated, it tried to mobilize public opinion through text messages. That was a welcome move and more of such things are required.
AI also needs to think about finance. Though it has massive support, the donations it gets are not sufficient enough to increase functional scope. It should use proper utilization of resources. Payment structures of workers and higher management needs to be revised as per the money it gets.
Thus, these were some of the strategic changes it can make to sustain and flourish in this competitive world.
To conclude, the essay has presented a complete overview of Amnesty international, its micro and macro environment, strengths it possesses and the way it should adopt to work well in future.
AI has drawn criticisms and appreciations time to time. Despite all the criticisms, the work it has done in the field of human rights is really incomparable!
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