This study examines empirically competence-based approach advantage in the banking industry in Nigeria. It determines the role of skills, attitude and knowledge in achieving competitive advantage in the banking industry in Nigeria. The descriptive method of research was employed to carry out this study. The primary source of data collection used to gather information. It was found that skill, attitude and knowledge played significant roles in achieving competitive advantage in Nigerian banking industry. And finally, it was recommended that customer service and turnaround time should be greatly improved to make banking easy, quick and convenient, modern queue management systems should also be employed to render excellent services to customers and the bank needs to train staff, particularly those at the frontline to be more customers – friendly and focused so as to meet and exceed the expectations of customers.
1.1 Background to the Study
Every industry including banking has an underlying structure or a set of fundamental economic and technical characteristics which give rise to competitive forces. A firm can clearly improve or erode its position within an industry through its choice of strategy. Competitive strategy, then, not only responds to the environment but also attempts to shape the environment in its favour (Porter, 1985). The strategist must therefore seek, to position his or her firm to cope best within its industry environment or to influence that environment in the firm’s favour.
Strategic management exponent Toffler (2003) writes that a company without a strategy is like an airplane weaving through the skies, hurled up and down, slammed by winds and lost in the thunder heads. If lightning or crushing winds do not destroy it, it will simply run out of fuel. In similar line of thought, Ross (2000) notes that without strategy an organization is like a ship without a rudder. It goes round in circles and like a tramp has no specific place to go.
Clearly, these statements emphasize the importance and need for far reaching dynamic and systematic strategic planning for companies to survive competition in the ever changing global competitive business environment. Ansoff (1970) argues that planning generally produces better alignment and financial results in companies which are strategically managed than those which are not. This suggests a seeming correlation between strategic planning and the ultimate performance of a company in terms of its growth, profits, attainment of objectives and sustained competitiveness (Strickland, 2004).
Though these assertions are largely true, Pitts (2003) affirm that exceptional situations also arise when some companies gain not because they had in place any strategy but because they just benefited from some sudden conditions in the external environment. For example, after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack on the World Trade Centre, Pentagon and in Pennsylvania all in the United States of America, air travel within and across that country dropped drastically in favour of rail and road transport which were thought to be safer. Rail and road transporter operators therefore, enjoyed a sudden and unexpected boom.
Nonetheless, and still consistent with the need for evolving and constantly reviewing strategy, it is important to note that having a sound strategy in itself does not necessarily translate into desired performance goals if it is not properly implemented. Both strategy and implementation must be good and timely to achieve positive results. As for a company driven by wrong strategic planning, Porter (1985) likens it to a train on a wrong track saying, “every station it comes to is the wrong station.”
These fundamental principles largely hold true for all industries globally and as should be expected, the banking industry is also subject to the dynamics of these global market trends. Against this background, the study looks at the competitive strategies for achieving competitive advantage in the banking industry.
1.2 Statement of Problem
The economic climate in Nigeria over the last decade has been relatively stable for banking business. This notwithstanding, not all the banks can be said to have performed at levels that meet industry and stakeholders’ expectations. Much as the differences in the performance levels of various companies are to be expected, it is still strongly believed that the strategies pursued by each bank largely account for its performance. The absence of well-defined competitive strategies results in weak competitive positions. This study looks at the competitive strategies being pursued by First Bank of Nigeria Plc to achieve competitive advantage in the banking industry of Nigeria. Management plays the lead role in strategic the inking, planning, decision-making and ultimate implementation of policies and strategies..