Chapter Four4.1 IntroductionThe primary research was conducted by means of a survey amongst 137 exchange-listed firms in Saudi Arabia, which represented a variety of business sectors. The 137 firms were from a target sample of 150 firms. As explained in the first chapter, the number of exchange-listed firms varies as firms are added or de-listed; 150 appeared to be the approximate number of “long-term” exchange participants, i.e. , firms that have been listed for two years or more, and are not subject to potential suspension due to capitalisation problems (Tadawul, 2011). The sampling method was a combination of systematic and “snowball” sampling; one manager from each of the selected firms was recruited for the survey, and after completing the survey was asked to suggest other managers in their firms who might provide additional insights.
The rationale for this approach was simply to increase the number of survey respondents to allow for more extensive data analysis. While it is recognised the snowball sampling technique has the potential to introduce certain biases in the data gathered (Atkinson & Flint, 2004), because the final overall sample encompassed a very high percentage of the exchange-listed firms (which numbered 157 at the beginning of 2013 according to the Tadawul website, thus the proportion of responding firms was 137/157, or 87.3%), much of the risk of non-randomness was eliminated.
The number of individual survey responses gathered was 213, an average of 1.55 responses per firm. After gathering basic demographic information about the responding firms and managers, the survey asked managers to describe the strategic management tools used by their firms and to assess those tools’ effectiveness.
Managers’ opinions about the general effectiveness of strategic management tools were overwhelmingly positive, with 211 of the 213 managers surveyed responding affirmatively to the question, “Do you feel your strategic management tools give your organisation a competitive advantage? ” There was, however, considerable divergence of opinion amongst the managers in what ways strategic management tools were most beneficial. 4.2 Profile of Surveyed Firms and ManagersThe surveyed managers were from firms in 10 different business sectors, with an approximately even distribution among the energy and utilities, telecoms, insurance, cement, and building and construction sectors; banking and finance, petrochemical, real estate, and industrial investment firms were also fairly uniformly represented in somewhat smaller numbers, with the least-represented sector being food industries.
With respect to firm size, somewhat more than half of the managers (55.9%) represented large firms employing more than 500 people, while 12.2% (26 of 213) represented small firms with 100 or fewer employees; the remaining managers (31.9%) were from medium-sized firms with between 100 and 500 employees: Fig. 10a: Distribution of Firms SurveyedFig. 10b: Firm SizeFirm size also correlated to the extent of firms’ activity in terms of their number of business locations.
88% of the small firms had a single business location, all operating entirely within Saudi Arabia. The medium-sized firms with more than 100 but fewer than 500 employees all had multiple business locations (although fewer than 10 for any single firm), but likewise operated only in Saudi Arabia. Of the large firms (500 or more employees), 74% operated completely within Saudi Arabia, while only 26% had business locations both inside and outside of the Kingdom. 68% of the firms were wholly-independent, while 29% were subsidiaries of larger Saudi companies; only six firms had any degree of foreign ownership, being joint ventures between Saudi and foreign investors.