Journal of
African Studies and Development

  • Abbreviation: J. Afr. Stud. Dev
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 2141-2189
  • DOI: 10.5897/JASD
  • Start Year: 2009
  • Published Articles: 229

Full Length Research Paper

Influence of strategy formulation on the performance of catholic parishes in Kenya

Kariuki David Ngigi
  • Kariuki David Ngigi
  • School of Arts and Social Sciences, Tangaza University College, Kenya.
  • Google Scholar
Kitonga Daniel M.
  • Kitonga Daniel M.
  • School of Arts and Social Sciences, Tangaza University College, Kenya.
  • Google Scholar
Arasa Robert
  • Arasa Robert
  • School of Business, Machakos University, Kenya.
  • Google Scholar


  •  Received: 21 October 2022
  •  Accepted: 05 December 2022
  •  Published: 31 January 2023

 ABSTRACT

Measuring organizational performance has been a major preoccupation of many organizations in the modern times. Traditional indicators of performance have been largely financial based. However, with the help of Balanced Scorecard model, all organizations are adopting performance measuring techniques that incorporate non-financial indicators of performance. This study set out to establish the influence of strategy formulation on the performance of Catholic parishes in Kenya. This study was anchored on Resource Based View theory, Dynamic Capabilities theory, and the Balanced Scorecard model. The research employed mixed methods approach using convergent design. Quantitative data was collected by use of survey questionnaire, while qualitative data was collected through interviews. The target population was ninety members of parish pastoral council and nine parish priests from nine parishes found to be applying strategic plan. In analyzing and interpreting the quantitative data, descriptive techniques were employed. Thematic analysis technique was used to analyze qualitative data. Study findings revealed a positive influence between strategy formulation and performance of parishes. The parish priests who were interviewed reported that strategic plan enabled the parishes to have a sense of direction and helps in promoting the collaborative ministry between the priests and the lay Christians. The study concluded that strategy formulation plays an important role in enhancing performance of Catholic parishes in Kenya. The study restricted itself to Catholic parishes and therefore, further research on influence of strategy formulation on performance of other churches is recommended.

 

Key words: Strategic plan; parish performance; catholic parish; parish priest; parish pastoral council.  


 INTRODUCTION

This part of the study introduces the two main variables, that is, the independent variable which is strategy formulation, and the dependent variable which is performance. Strategy formulation concerns itself with the ends, means and conduct of the entire organization. It is a managerial process which starts by identifying the objectives of the firm. It is a cyclical and continuous process, where objectives are constantly reviewed and updated (Cole, 2004). Planning process has to be orderly and the management team should demonstrate clear understanding of the organizational goals and how to attain them through execution of specific steps. Strategy formulation has a futuristic perspective as it involves identification of potential threats and opportunities in the external environment as well as strengths and weaknesses in the internal environment (Gupta, 2009).

 

Njeru (2015) observes that the idea of organizational performance is not new in the literature yet it is very complex to define. As such, it has different meaning in different contexts and because of this there is no universal definition of this concept. Ngui (2015) explains that organizational performance is evaluated by its actual output against its projected output. Otieno (2013) defines organizational performance as the achievement of an organization with respect to some set standards like quantified objectives of profitability.

 

To measure organizational performance, both monetary and non-monetary dimensions of the organization are critical. A combination of both aspects of performance helps the stakeholders to gain insights on testing and comparing their organizational performance, especially the extent of efficient and effective utilization of resources, ability to compete, and readiness to respond to any external pressure (Ali and Qun, 2019). Performance measurement is therefore indispensable in all organizations whether profit or nonprofit organizations.

 

The degree to which an organization’s objectives have been realized is a measure of performance for that organization. Depending on the institution there are several ways of measuring the competitiveness and performance of the organizations. Churches, for example would use increase in membership, retention of old members, and increase in offerings as indicators of growth and performance.

 

Statement of the problem

 

 Several studies on churches have established that many church leaders are inadequately prepared in the area of management especially planning. As such, very few churches have strategic plans. Chatira and Mwenje (2018) in their study concluded that church ministers in Zimbabwe faced management related challenges such as leadership, development, fund-raising, time management, and managing church’s budget. Soko (2012) found out that church organizations in Kenya are not able to respond to changes since their managers are not skilled in change management skills. Kung’u (2007) noted that mainstream denominations in Kenya have serious challenges in implementing their strategies.

 

This study focused on parishes that were already applying strategic plans with the aim of establishing whether this practice was contributing to enhancing the performance of parishes. The small amount of literature on church and strategic management practices points to an area that is least studied and hence the current study aimed at adding new knowledge in this field. Of the studies reviewed, none focused specifically on the Catholic parishes in Kenya and the study was deemed appropriate to generate a new perspective in the area of church management.

 

Theoretical framework

 

Any academic work must be anchored on a strong theoretical orientation for it to have an authoritative force in a given area of study. Kombo and Tromp (2006) defined theoretical framework as a set of related concepts founded on theories. It entails rationalized collection of materials which are originated from and collaborated by data. Resource Based View (RBV), Dynamic Capabilities (DCs), and Balanced Scorecard (BSC) theories were selected to guide this study.

 

Resource Based View (RBV)

 

RBV is a technique of identifying and analyzing an organization’s strategic uniqueness based on assessment of its distinct collection of skills, assets, intangibles, and capacity. Each firm develops competence from its resources to gain its competitive edge. The concept of competitive advantage is central to the strategic management literature (Barney, 2007). Key contributors in the development of RBV theory include Jay B. Barney, Gary Hamel, George S. Day, and Shelby D. Hunt.

 

Dynamic Capabilities (DCs) Theory

 

DCs theory is essentially an extension of the RBV. Although RBV recognizes the strategic advantages that the leverage of valuable, rare, inimitable, and non-substitutable resources can offer a firm, RBV does not directly address the competitive implications of market changes as they relate to an organization’s ability to adapt their resources and competencies to a rapidly changing environment (Teece et al., 1997).

 

This theory is proposed as a strategic framework to help explain the competitive advantages related to a firm’s abilities to continually develop and adapt their competencies in anticipation of and response to environmental changes. The focus of DCs is the dynamic nature of the external environment (Teece et al., 1997). Capabilities represent an organization’s capacity to identify distinct internal and external competencies and subsequently coordinate, reorganize and reshape them as environmental changes dictate. Dynamic capabilities evolve over within each firm making them a source of a sustainable competitive advantage.

 

DCs theory was considered appropriate for this study since the core subject matter of the study was strategy formulation. Parishes as organizations operate in a rapidly changing environment especially changes coming with modern secularism. As such, parish ministry must always align itself to these changes for it to be able to address the complexities that come with secularism and religious indifference. For the parish to play its prophetic role in addressing these complexities, it must develop its own unique capabilities and which must keep evolving so as to address the ever increasing challenges.

 

Balanced scorecard (BSC) model

 

BSC is a performance measurement instrument devised by Robert Kaplan and David Norton in 1992. Its goal is to transform an institution’s mission and vision into actions (Vliet, 2014). At the time of its development, there was a strong view that financial based measures of performance were less effective for modern business organizations. Kaplan and Norton embarked on a study to develop new techniques of measuring performance. The starting points of the BSC are grouped into four categories namely; finance, customer, internal business procedures, and innovation and learning (Yahanpath et al., 2017).

 

Today, BSC has been modified and is being applied by nonprofit and public sectors (Vliet, 2014). According to this theory, there has to be a balance between the short and long term objectives, leading and lagging indicators, financial and non-financial aspects, and external and internal dimensions. It is about harmonious interaction in which an improvement in one perspective must not hinder another perspective.

 

BSC has been employed in many organizations because it emphasizes the need for a balance between both monetary and non-financial indicators in a firm’s system of managing performance (Kaplan and Norton, 1996). In this case, BSC underscores the necessity of managing and measuring intangible assets to achieve a competitive edge (Kaplan and Norton, 2004). This contribution of BSC makes it more ideal for measuring performance of a religious organization whose main objective is spiritual well-being instead of financial performance. Kaplan and Norton recommended a nine-step procedure for designing and executing the BSC in an organization. These steps are; conducting an overall firm assessment; establishing strategic points; defining perspectives and strategic goals; developing a strategic path; driving performance criterion; refining strategic moves; automating and communicating; executing the BSC in the entire firm; and finally collecting and evaluating data (Vliet, 2014).

 

Churches as human organizations require a performance measuring system such as BSC to enable them assess their soundness and relevance if they are to wither the complex and competitive atmosphere, even if they are non-profit organizations with transcendent goals (Yahanpath et al., 2017).In the recent decades, church members are increasingly demanding accountability from church leadership. Even the highly formalized churches like the Catholic Church have not escaped the demand for accountability and transparency as noted by Economist (2014).

 

BSC was chosen as appropriate for the study because it goes beyond financial status as the sole measuring yardstick of organizational performance. Though financial measures are important for churches, they are not absolute and as such other measures of church performance must be sought. BSC accommodates other performance measurement parameters and hence its importance in this study. Johnson, Scholes and Whittington (2008), observe that the BSC model has gained popularity in organizations because of its expanded scope of performance measurement.

 

While some authors suggest that churches need not focus on finances as they measure their performances, other authors underscore the need for churches to incorporate a financial dimension in assessing performance since finances ensure sustainability of churches as organizations, even though they are themselves non-financial institutions. This study holds the latter view and it therefore included finance as one of the performance indicators. Authors who agree with this view include (Yahanpath et al., 2017).

 

Keyt (2001) employed the BSC to a church set-up where he adopted its four performance aspects, namely; internal business, customers, finance, and innovation and learning, and adapted them to four measurement perspectives for churches. The four perspectives were; membership, ministering, internal ministry processes, and innovation and learning.

 

To Keyt’s modified BSC, Yahanpath et al. (2017), proposed further modification to the adapted BSC model. He suggested incorporation of financial aspect from Kaplan’s and Norton’s original BSC. The new model therefore included five perspectives namely; Finance, membership, external ministry, internal ministry, and innovation and learning. This study adopted this model as it incorporates the financial perspective thereby making it a more comprehensive measure of performance of parishes.

 

External ministry has to do with evangelism and as such the church is in constant need of new converts in order to flourish. Just as businesses seek to increase their customer numbers, the church must seek to recruit new members. Under internal ministry, the church should meet the spiritual and social needs of its members. Internal ministry activities according to (Keyt, 2001), include; preaching, teaching, counseling, children and youth pastoral care, care of the poor in the church among other pastoral care related activities. Internal ministry corresponds to original BSC internal business processes.

 

Finance perspective in the context of a church organization has no profit component which is a key component in the profit making organizations. Finances in the church mainly come from weekly collections, tithes, and donations. These are used to meet church budgets. Innovation and learning seek to foster the improvement of performance by offering support to the other perspectives (Kaplan and Norton,1993).Churches ought to constantly adapt to their environment and the emerging needs of their members by embracing new ministerial approaches, forming new leaders and empowering them for the ministry. Thus innovation and learning is meant to help the church recognize and address the ever dynamic needs of their church membership. This model specifically addressed the dependent variable of the study, which is performance of parishes. Performance in this study refers to the extent that a parish attains its pastoral mission effectively.


 EMPIRICAL LITERATURE REVIEW

Grobler et al. (2012) studied the ability of Reformed Churches of South Africa to craft and implement congregational strategy. The findings indicated a deficiency of methods and skills to formulate and execute strategy. This study revealed a managerial weakness in the ministers. The study recommended management training of church ministers. The study focused on the reformed churches of South Africa and their capacity to develop a strategy. Lack of training in management skills among church ministers is therefore a major setback when it comes to employment of strategic management practices in running churches.

 

Chatira et al. (2018) investigated the development of management techniques for managing churches in pastoral formation programs in Zimbabwe. They did a case study with the aim of establishing whether management science can also be applicable in managing churches. The study concluded management was a challenge in the running of churches in Zimbabwe. Challenges faced by pastors included fund raising, managing church’s budget, leadership development, and time management among others.

 

Soko (2012) did a study on change management in Kenya in the context of Catholic Organizations. The study was exploratory and sought to investigate how Catholic organizations in Kenya respond to changes in environment that they operate. Soko found out that these organizations are not swift in responding to change and hence skills in change management are necessary for those in charge of these organizations. A lack of the necessary skills to respond to changes in environment lead us to conclude that church organizations in Kenya do not make effective use of strategic management practices.

 

Slabbert and Mukhongo (2018) studied the effect of strategic planning on the performance of United Nations Development program (UNDP) in Mogadishu. The study employed descriptive design and a questionnaire served as the instrument of collecting data. The findings indicated there was no significant association between strategic planning practice and performance. This study took place in Mogadishu while the current study aimed to establish whether strategic planning together with strategic implementation and evaluation have any association with the performance of parishes.

 

Mohammad and Wang (2019) investigated the relationship between strategic management practices and the performance of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in Bangladesh. The results concluded that planning, implementing and controlling strategies all have a positive contribution to the growth of SMEs in Bangladesh. The current study tested the same variables but in the context of parishes which are religious and non-profit making institutions.

 

Karoki (2016) researched on the influence of strategic planning on Christian churches in Nairobi, Kenya. The research applied cross-sectional design. To collect primary data, a questionnaire was used. Research participants were church ministers, pastors, administrators and church members. The research showed that many churches in Nairobi have a strategic plan which enhances the performance of Christian churches. The researcher recommended involvement of church members in the planning process in order to make them own the strategy and expedite its implementation. This study focused on churches in Nairobi only while the intended research will cover catholic parishes in Kenya.

 

Adetayo (2018) examined strategy formulation in relation to performance of selected manufacturing organizations in Lagos. A sample of 171 respondents was used. The findings showed a positive association between performance of firms studied and strategy formulation. The researcher concluded by recommending that top management should be more active in the strategy formulation process for attainment of set organizational objectives which will in turn facilitate the growth and development of organizations in Nigeria. It was also recommended that it is necessary for organizations to pay attention to the environment in which they operate in and take it into full consideration when formulating and implementing strategic plans (Adetayo, 2018). This study was done on a profit making organization while this study focused on parishes which are not for profit organizations.

 

Olumuyiwa et al. (2012) did a study whose goal was to find out the connection between planning and organization’s productivity and also to assess if planning improves the performance of employees in an organization. According to the findings, planning enhances productivity as well as workers’ performance in an enterprise. The research used a questionnaire that was distributed to 120 staff of Sterling bank Nigeria Plc. The study examined planning alone while this study included other two components, namely; implementation and evaluation of strategy.

 

Mutia et al. (2016), studied how the setting of the strategy direction of a church influences its growth in infrastructure. Descriptive correlation design was employed and participants included bishops and clergy of the five largest church denominations in Kenya that is, the Roman Catholic Church, African Inland Church (AIC), Anglican Church of Kenya (ACK), Methodist Church in Kenya and Presbyterian Church of East Africa (PCEA). Strategy formulation was found to have a positive contribution to the growth of church infrastructure and involvement of church leaders in the planning process was recommended. This study narrowed its scope to infrastructural growth of churches, while this study sought to measure varied aspects of performance with infrastructural growth being one of them.

 

Taiwo and Idunnu (2010) examined the contribution of strategic formulation on performance and survival of organizations. The First bank of Nigeria was used as the case. In the study, survey questionnaires were given to 100 respondents consisting of both junior and senior employees of different First bank branches in Lagos (Appendix Table 1). This study concluded that planning improves performance of an organization and hence its survival. The study investigated a bank which is a for profit organization, while this study focused on parishes which are non-profit organizations.

 

 

Siengo and Kibuine (2015) sought to determine the influence of governance structure on performance of churches. Cross sectional descriptive design was used where sixty two evangelical churches constituted the study population and only senior church administrators and clergy were chosen to be the study participants. Study results showed that governance structure play a great role in the performance of churches in terms of their ministry. This research restricted itself to leadership structure which falls under strategy implementation, while this study in addition examined planning, and evaluating aspects of strategy.

 

Nango (2017) investigated management of change as a tool for improving performance of churches. Target population was the Anglican and African inland churches of Kenya, where the participants included bishops, deans of provinces, and administration secretaries. Descriptive design was used in this research. Performance indicators tested in the study were; increase in number of church members, ability to retain old members, and increase in tithes and offertories. The study concluded that organizational leadership, culture, and good communication help a lot in promoting performance of the ACK and AIC churches. The scope of this study was ACK and AIC churches, while the scope of this study was catholic parishes.

 

Awuku-Gyampoh and Asare (2019) conducted a study to assess the role of church governance structure on church development. The study was done in Accra, Ghana. The study employed content analysis and thirty pastors participated in filling questionnaires with open-ended questions. Governance structure was found to have a significant contribution to church development. This study focused on management in general while this research dwelt on strategic practices of management.

 

Strategy formulation in the context of a Parish

 

A typical parish pastoral plan like a plan of any other organization contains some key components, such as; mission, values, vision, priorities or focus areas, pillars, goals, timeline, and finally resources needed. A parish mission statement must articulate a mission that is specific to its situation while being consistent with the mission of Jesus Christ (Pickett, 2007).

 

While formulating parish strategy, planners are encouraged to consider the widest possible set of resources that may be applied or developed to support goal accomplishment. The planning process will be helpful in identifying the highest priority resource needs as well as where resource scarcity is affecting mission achievement. General categories of typical parish resources include; People (clergy, religious, paid staff, lay leaders, volunteer ministers), Facilities (church building, office, priests’ rectory among others), equipment (owned, leased, shared), financial (operating funds, capital funds).


 MATERIALS AND METHODS

This study applied convergent design of mixed methods approach. Mixed methods approach involves philosophical assumptions that guide the collection and analysis of data using a mixture of qualitative and quantitative approaches (Bryman, 2013).

 

Convergent design emphasizes the relationship between the study variables. The study design allowed the researcher to describe the relevant aspects of the study from the respondents. Concurrent or convergent research design integrates both qualitative and quantitative data (Creswell, 2014). Two instruments, namely a survey questionnaire for collecting quantitative data and an interview guide for collecting qualitative data were administered concurrently.

The study location was the area covering the 26 Catholic dioceses in Kenya that means all the 47 counties of Kenya. Eleven parishes were purposively identified and selected. These parishes were selected since they were the only ones applying strategic management practices to run their operations. Of the eleven parishes, two parishes were used for piloting purposes, while the remaining nine parishes were used for the main study.

 

Study respondents were ten parish leaders selected purposively and they included the parish priest, the parish head catechist, and the chairperson of parish pastoral council (PPC). Other officials included parish finance committee chair person as well as the chairperson parish development committee. Other important respondents were the parish treasurer, Catholic Men Association (CMA) chairman, Catholic Women Association (CWA) chairlady, Parish secretary, and the parish vice chairperson. These leaders were selected for the study since they are the parish decision makers and therefore they understand better the affairs of the parish especially when it comes to the formulation, implementation and evaluation of the parish strategic plan. They are also better placed to tell whether the strategic plan is bearing positive fruits or not.

 

In the research, survey questionnaire and interview guide were used for the purposes of collecting primary data in this study, survey questionnaire was used to collect quantitative data. Some questionnaires were distributed through drop and pick method, while others were sent via email. Sending questionnaire by email was necessitated by covid-19 pandemic restrictions on movement.

 

Interview guide was used to collect qualitative data. However, since conducting interviews is an expensive activity, only parish priests were interviewed. Parish priests were also preferred for the interviews since they are in charge of parishes and they majorly determine whether the parish applies a strategic plan or not.


 RESULTS

This part of the study presents the findings of the study as collected by both quantitative and qualitative methods.

 

Reliability test

 

In this study, the researcher applied Cronbach alpha model to determine the internal reliability of the items in the questionnaire. Reliability test results of this study are shown in Table 1.

 

From Table 1, the 29 questions having scale were subjected to a reliability test by the researcher and the value for Cronbach’s alpha was found to be 0.928 which indicates a very high level if internal consistency for the scale used by the researcher. This implies that the questionnaire administered to the participants was reliable.

 

Response rate

 

The study targeted 90 respondents from the nine parishes selected purposively for this study. Ninety questionnaires were therefore administered and fifty eight duly filled questionnaires were returned and this is given in Table 2.

 

From Table 2, the response rate was 64.44%. According to Bryman (2016), and Wallima, (2016), a response rate of 85% and above is excellent, 70- 85% is very good, 60-69% is acceptable, 50- 59% is barely acceptable, while below 50% is not acceptable. The response rate of 64.44% was therefore within the acceptable range and the researcher proceeded with the data analysis. This response rate is attributed to the frequent closures of the churches due to Covid-19 pandemic which made it difficult for the researcher to collect back all the questionnaires.

 

Gender of participants

 

The researcher was interested in knowing the gender composition church leaders in parishes of a church whose membership is dominated by women yet men dominated key leadership positions. Gender distribution is presented in Table 3.

 

Table 3 is tabulated as follows n =58 representing the total number of participants. Male participants were 34 being 59% while the females were 24 with 41%.

 

Leadership position of study participants

 

In an attempt to get authentic findings on the influence of strategic management practices on performance of parishes, the researcher opted to focus on key parish leaders. Such leaders participate in the running the affairs of parishes. Ten leaders targeted in the study were; the parish chair person, treasurer, secretary, development and finance committees chair persons, Catholic men and Catholic women associations chair persons, and parish vice chairperson and vice secretary. Parish priests who are in charge of parishes were subjected to interviews. Composition of parish leaders who participated in the study is given in Table 4.

 

From Table 4, it is clear that the majority of the 30% participants were having other roles such as, parish secretary, treasurer, Catholic men Association chairpersons, Catholic women association chairpersons, and parish vice chair persons and secretaries, while 22% comprised of parish pastoral council (PPC) chairpersons, 18% were finance committee chairpersons, 17% were head parish catechists and 13% were development committee chairpersons.

 

Year of establishment of the parishes

 

The researcher was interested in knowing the year the target parishes were established. This information was to give a clear picture of the duration the parish has existed in relation to the period it has applied strategic management practices. This is presented in Table 5.

 

Table 5 presents the descriptive analysis of the year that the parishes were established. From the table it can be tabulated that there were 47 participants who filled the question. 1917 was the year that the oldest parish was established while the newest was established in 2014. The mean for the years of establishment is 1989.

 

Duration of using strategic plan

 

The researcher found important to establish the duration

the parish had actually applied a strategic plan. This is necessary since it informs research as to how much parish performance can be attributed to parish performance. The distribution of how long each of the nine parishes has practiced strategic plan is given in Table 6.

 

From Table 6, the shortest period the parish has used the Strategic plan is one year while the parish that has used the strategic plan the longest is ten years. The mean years that parishes had applied their strategic plan is 4 years. Only five participants did not fill the question since the total number of participants was 58.

 

 

Involvement of parishioners in strategy formulation

 

As to whether parishioners were engaged in the process of formulating the strategy and its subsequent implementation and evaluation, Table 7 presents the response of the study participants.

 

According to Table 7, 95% of the participants agreed to that fact that parishioners were involved in the formulation of their parish strategic plan while, 5% felt that parishioners were not involved in the establishment of their parish strategic plan.

 

Streamlining of parish activities

 

The researcher was interested in knowing whether parishioners felt that their parish strategic plan helped in streamlining parish activities. Table 8 presents the findings.

Fifty-two or 90% of the total participants choose the yes response, agreeing to the fact that by having strategic plan in their parish, it has assisted in streamlining the activities of their parishes while six participants (10%) were of the opinion that strategic plan has not assisted in streaming either of their activities.

 

Growth of church membership

 

The study sought to establish the extent to which the participants would attribute the increase in the church members to the effective adoption of parish strategy. Table 9 gives the results.

 

Fifty-six, representing 96.6% participants were of the opinion that their parish membership had increased due to strategic plan. Two members, 3.4% did not respond to the question as per Table 9.

 

Increase of church offertories

 

The study sought to establish whether application of strategic plan in the parish had assisted the parish to report an increase in offertories. Table 10 presents the findings.

 

According to Table 10, 57 participants representing 98.3% agreed that offertories in the parishes had increased. One participant (1.7%) was of the contrary opinion that offertories had not increased.

 

Growth towards self-reliance

 

This question sought to establish whether the parish strategy has helped the parish to be self-reliant in terms of finances. The findings are given in Table 11.

 

From Table 11, fifty-seven, 98.3% of the participants were of the opinion that having strategic plan in their parishes has helped them to be self-reliant while one, 1.7% of the total participants did not fill the question.

 

Development of modern infrastructure

 

This question sought to establish whether the parish strategy has helped the parish to grow in terms of modern infrastructure. Table 12 gives the results.

 

Table 12 portrays that 54, 93% of total participants agreed to the fact that their churches have improved their infrastructure attributing this growth to their use of strategic plan. Four, 7% of the participants were of the contrary opinion that in their parish though they have strategic plan, their infrastructure is not yet modern.

 

Influence of strategy formulation on performance of parish ministry Kenyan parishes

 

The results highlighting the influence of strategy formulation on the performance of parish ministry are presented in Table 13.

 

 

From Table 13, Majority of the participants with 60.3 and 15.5% agreed to the fact that strategic plan of their parish has helped them respond to external environment. Nineteen percent of the participants were of the opinion that strategic plan has helped them moderately while 5.2% they posited that the strategic plan has to a less extent helped them in responding to changes in the external environment.

 

 

On the question about the extent to which the parish rely on its strategic plan for direction, majority of the participants agreed to a great extent with 27.6% and 58.6% while only 13.8% who were examined said that their parishes depend moderately on their strategic plan for direction. Most of the parishioners 50% and 29.3% agreed to a very and great extent that their parish strategic plan has helped them realize parish goals and objectives.

 

Twenty point seven percent of the participants portrayed that, moderately has their parish strategic plan helped them to realize the parish goals and objectives.

 

Performance of parish ministry

 

The study sought to establish the performance of parishes in terms of several identified indicators in relation to the extent that this performance or achievements were attributable to the adoption of strategic management practices by the target parishes. Table 14 presents the findings.

 

 

Analysis of qualitative data

 

Qualitative data from the interviews revealed the following:

 

Understanding of a parish strategic plan: The question was posed to enquire about the understanding of the strategic plan in the context of a parish. Analysis of the response to this question established five themes through open coding which were reduced to three themes through axial coding and which further reduced to one main theme. The respondents felt that the parish strategic plan is a blueprint of what the parish should look like at a defined future.

 

Components of parish strategic plan: As regards to the question on the components of strategic plan, the analysis of the interview report through open coding established ten themes. These themes were reduced to six through axial coding and further reduced to three main themes. The respondents felt that needs assessment, vision and mission of the parish are core components of strategic plan.

 

Benefits of parish strategic plan: A question was posed to find out the benefits of strategic plan in the parish. Analysis of interview data established thirty four themes through open coding. These themes were reduced to eleven through axial coding and later reduced to six main themes. The respondents reported that strategic plan creates a sense of ownership of the parish, it enhances collaboration between the parishioners and their parish priest, it contributes to growth of parish population, offertories and other contributions, there is smooth transition and continuity when the parish priest is transferred and generally the strategy offers the parish a sense of direction.

 

Developing a parish strategic plan: The respondents were asked to describe the procedure of preparing a parish strategic plan and the interview report established twenty three themes through open coding, five themes after axial coding which were further reduced to three main themes. The respondents said that SWOT analysis, formation of a steering committee and constant communication with the parishioners are core to strategy formulation process.

 

Challenges encountered while developing parish strategic plan

 

The question was posed to probe the challenges encountered during parish strategy formulation and the report analyzed through open coding established eighteen themes, which were reduced to five through axial coding and further reduced to three main music. The respondents felt that lack of awareness about parish strategy, lack of finances and time were the main challenges they encountered through the process of developing parish strategy.


 DISCUSSION OF FINDINGS

The findings made it clear that the existence of parish strategic plan helps in enhancing the performance of parishes. This finding is in agreement with a study by Mohammad and Wang (2019) who investigated the relationship between strategic management and performance of SMEs in Bangladesh. This research concluded that planning has a positive effect on the growth of SMEs in Bangladesh.

 

Similarly, findings are also in agreement with the findings by Karoki (2016) who tested the importance of strategic planning on Christian churches in Nairobi and the findings revealed that strategy helps in enhancing the performance of churches in Nairobi.

 

The results of this research also concurred with the findings of Adetayo (2018) who examined strategy formulation in relation to performance of selected manufacturing organizations in Lagos. According to the findings of this research, there was a positive relationship between strategy formulation and performance of manufacturing firms.

 

The findings further agree with the conclusions by Olumuyiwa et al. (2012) who did a study to find out the connection between planning and organization’s productivity. The current study findings revealed that strategy improves the productivity of the firm.

 

The findings also concur with the results of Mutia et al. (2016) who sought to establish whether strategy of a church has any influence in the growth of church infrastructure. Their findings revealed that strategy contributed to the growth of church infrastructure.

 

The study’s conclusions also concur with the findings by Taiwo et al. (2010) who examined the contribution of strategy formulation on productivity and survival of organizations in Nigeria. The findings showed that strategy improves the performance of organizations.

 

However, the findings do not agree with the study by Slabbert et al. (2018) on the importance of strategic planning in enhancing the performance of UNDP in Mogadishu. Slabbert did not establish a positive connection between strategic planning and performance of UNDP in Mogadishu unlike in the findings of this study.

 

Further, a study by Khoshtaria (2018) aimed to establish the impact of strategic planning on performance, concluded that strategic planning had an impact on performance of organizations in Georgia USA.

These results are similar to the findings of this study where strategic planning was found to affect the performance of parishes in a positive way.

 

Accordingly, this study is also in agreement with the findings made by Alosani et al. (2020) who was examining the role of strategic planning on effectiveness of Dubai police. Like the current study, Alosani et al. (2020) found out that strategic planning played a positive role in enhancing performance.

 

Bert et al. (2019) set out to establish whether strategic planning improves performance of organizations. The findings of the study tallied with the findings of the current

study where both studies found a positive contribution of strategic planning on development of organizations.

 

Moreso, this study confirms the findings of a study carried out by Monye et al. (2018) who sought to examine the function of strategic planning in the improvement of organizations. The findings indicated that strategic planning contributes in the improvement of organizations.

 

Similarly, the findings of this research concurred with the findings by Maina et al. (2020) who sought to determine the influence of strategy formulation on productivity of state corporations in Kenya. Formulation of strategy was found to be a contributor on the performance of government institutions.

 

Njoroge (2018) examined the effects of planning on organizational performance of event organizing enterprises in Nairobi. These two studies concluded that strategic planning helps in enhancing performance of organizations.

 

The study confirms the findings of Nzuki (2017) who studied the importance of strategic planning on performance of Sandoz GmbH Kenya. Both studies established that strategic planning plays an important role in the improvement of organizations. Similarly, the results of this research concurred with the findings of Opiyo (2016) who did a study with the aim of understanding the contribution of strategic planning on performance of community organizations in Migori County. These two studies found out that strategic planning leads to effectiveness of organizations.

 

The outcomes of this objective on strategy formulation in this study have agreed with all empirical studies that were reviewed except the study by Slabber et al. (2018). All these studies have established the importance of strategy formulation in promoting better performance of organizations. They have therefore recommended the practice of developing strategic plans for all organizations.

 

Additionally, the findings from interviews conducted on parish priests indicated a general agreement that strategic planning is very helpful in enhancing pastoral ministry of a parish. According to the interviewed priests, strategic planning creates a sense of ownership of the parish by the parishioners especially where they are involved in the SWOT analysis and the subsequent preparation of the strategy. They indicated that strategic planning promotes the spirit of collaboration because it defines the mission and vision of the parish, and the role each parishioner should play in the process of realizing the vision and mission of the parish.

 

Further, during the interviews, the parish priests also indicated the growth in membership of the parishes and also in the church associations like CMA, CWA and youth group. They attributed this growth to the pastoral dimension of strategic planning like outreach programs and renewal of the Spirit of small Christian communities. Increase of parish revenue was also attributed to the existence of parish strategic planning. This comes about due to the involvement of parishioners in the planning of projects as well resource mobilization activities in the parish.

 

Likewise, another benefit of parish strategy that was identified during the interviews was smooth transition when one parish priest is transferred and is replaced by another. Strategic plan helps in the continuity of parish projects in progress at the time of transfer. All interviewees agreed that strategic plan gives the parish the sense of direction, and they all recommended that all parishes should be encouraged to develop strategic plans.

 

The small number of parishes practicing strategic management approaches confirms the view of Myer (2013) who holds that some church leaders are skeptical over strategy formulation partly because they lack training in management and partly due to belief that planning has no biblical foundation and as such churches being spiritual organizations should be managed in a spiritual manner.


 CONCLUSION

In general, empirical literature reviewed in this study shows that strategic plan has a positive impact on the performance of organizations both for-profit and non-profit. The findings of this study are also in agreement with these previous studies. Strategic plan therefore helps catholic parishes to improve their performance both in the area of pastoral and spiritual care as well as in the physical development of the parish. Findings from the interviews revealed that strategic plans help in creating a sense of ownership of the parish among the parishioners as they are given a room to participate in affairs of the parish. Strategic plan was also found to be core in providing the sense of direction for the parish. The parish priests attributed the accelerated of growth of their parishes to the development and implementation of strategic plan. This growth is reflected in the increase of parishioners as well as growth of parish infrastructure.

 

As per the findings of this study, it is recommended that all parishes should be encouraged to embrace the practice of strategy formulation. This practice helps in identifying the needs of the parishioners, possible solutions to these needs and subsequently the strategies to address the needs.


 CONFLICT OF INTERESTS

The authors have not declared any conflict of interests.



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