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Case study on Salvation Army

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Abstract

The research paper seeks to unveil the strategic management of Salvation Army. An organized move toward a certain position that relates to a firm and its environment in a manner that it will ensure it continues to succeed and secured from all kind of surprises (Ansoff, 1985) is what all organization be they for profit or non profit seek.

The Salvation Army is one of the most successful NPOs. This is attributed to good corporate governance. The trustees are active and they attend all or most of the meetings (Australia Salvation Army, 2010). There are separate councils and advisory boards which monitor each other to ensure accountability and transparency. There is a code of conduct which should be followed by all employees. Despite it success there are a myriad of challenges that face it in the future as noted by Henley Centre an external consultant firm.

The four main questions that guided this case study are; what are the stakeholder issues that the Salvation Army might encounter. How should the organization seek to resolve them, how the Salvation Army should organize itself in terms of governance and strategic vision, what could the organization do in order to sustain their growth and success in the future and finally what are the strategic choices that I think are pertinent to strategic positioning of salvation army.

The continuous growth of the organization in the midst of an ever hanging world warrant some planning to guarantee its future success in meeting her goals and ensuring that it does not deviate from it primary objective; spreading the gospel (Murdock, 2006).

Introduction

Salvation Army is an evangelical Christian church that is globally known for its charity engagement. At present, it works in 121 countries as well as providing services in 175 different languages. It was founded in 1865 by William and his wife Catherine Booth. It is headquartered in 101 Queen Victoria Street, London in England. It is a non profit organization that has adopted a military structure, which is a clear distinction of the organization from other religious organizations (Walker, 2001).

Salvation army not only engages in religious activities but it also ventures in other sectors such as providing employment opportunities, societal programs (caring for the homeless, response to those affected by disasters for instance floods, earth quakes etc), education programs as well as healthcare and hospital provision.

The organization’s message as well as the kind of life it adopts is on the basis of the teachings from the bible. The primary objective is to spread the word of God and trying to convince people to follow Jesus Christ. Additionally, the Salvation Army has been distinct by depicting practical concerns and care for the needs of people; this has been done without any sort of discrimination.

Over the years, the organization has been growing worldwide and more so in the developing countries, this coupled with it varied range of programs and activities it undertakes has led to a size huge enough and with lots of complexity. This has been thought to masquerade a challenge in terms of the manner with which it recognizes and integrate the various stakeholders as well as how it is prepared for the future (Murdock, 2006).

This is attributed to what one of Salvation Army stated, that in this period in time (Twenty-first centaury) things are not static and the organization needs a mission-centered for continuous renewal. He also held that it is time that extra intrepid ideas need to be taken to propel the organization to greater heights while overcoming the foreseeable challenges. What this statement meant is nothing more than strategic management.  

Salvation Army range of activities

As noted previously, the Salvation Army engages in a myriad of activities aside from spreading the word of God and pursuing people to follow Him. These activities include; social programs that entail caring for the homeless, assisting those addicted by alcoholism and other drugs, supporting those affected by natural calamities (disaster relief), healthcare and hospital provision this is more so in developing countries as it has created mobile clinics and outpatients services, it has also taken active role in addressing HIV/AIDS problem.

The Salvation Army has also engaged actively in education as well as provision of job opportunities. The later has been accomplished by a program dubbed salvation army employment plus, the success of providing job opportunities is attributed to the organization working hand in hand with various employers network, those that provide training as well as a team of local employment agencies and governments.

Fundamental basis

As suggested by the name, the organization adopted a quasi-military structure. This was compiled from the Indian civil service. It is characterized by use of ranks, uniforms and flags. Although it primary objective was to evangelize, it also deals with efforts to alleviate poverty as well as providing other societal services in an effective manner (Murdock, 2006).

Service provision has been the norm, its ministers are paid much less salaries compared to those holding similar ranks in various sectors, for instance Hughes a territorial commander is paid a mere 10,258 pounds, this includes benefits

Growth of the Salvation Army

The growth and strength of the organization stems form its founders. Since its conception in UK, the organization has been expanding to other nations hence a global organization. This growth has led to increased number of soldier; in 2003, there were slightly above one million soldiers. The growth is well supported by the following statistics; Africa, 438,483 (43.0%), America 127,460 (12.5%), Europe 71,888 (7.0%), south Asia 275,225 (27.0%) and south pacific and East Asia consisting of 107,084 (10.5%). Although the organization operate in regions that it is recognized by the host government, the relationship with certain government is not always smooth. This has posed a great challenge especially to countries such as Russia.

Governance and change process

One may think that the organization is exactly similar to the armed army; this is not the case because it has no high command globs set of structure that usually dictates strategies and activities within the organization. Although it is headquartered in London, each territory is autonomous.

The structure is made up of the following; the high council made up of active commissioners and officers that run the various territories. Their function is to address issues relating to succession. The generals’ consultative council made up of all officers that qualify to attend high council shoulder the responsibility of advising the organization on mission, strategy as well as policies issues (Murdock, 2006). They meet four-times per year. Lastly, the international management council which meets once a month oversees that headquarter is run and operates efficiently and effectively.

Problems facing Salvation Army

A research conducted by Henley Centre has established that finance has been a challenge, a widening gap between the rich and the poor, family stress, increase alcohol abuse, a declining and ageing members, an ever expanding need for service to be provided, linking generations, top down system of governance among others.    

What are the stakeholder issues that the Salvation Army might encounter? How should the organization seek to resolve them?

Salvation Army stakeholders

According to Murdoph, 2006, the identifiable categories of the organization’s stakeholder are external, internal and significant others. The later include even those that hold negative opinion towards the organization. This last category comprises of other faith organizations that seek to persuade Christians to follow Christ, other faith organization that persuade followers other than Christianity, potential recipients of various services, those that provide and supply alcohol and the gambling sectors.

Stakeholders categorized as being internal include commissioners/territorial commanders, high council, uniformed officers, retired officers, active soldiers (congregation), non-uniformed staff, as well as families of uniformed and non-uniformed staff.

The last category of the external environment comprises of direct recipients of services offered, families of those receiving the services, those that fund the organization, government that the organization carries it day to day operations, international aid agencies, regulatory environment, actual military organizations, relative looking for their missing members, disaster related government organizations and social welfare, organizations that offer health and education services.

Stakeholder issues

Those stakeholders that form the internal environment of the organization might demand better pay and retirement packages, better working environment, active development in decision making, changing the leadership style, the employees may demand to form worker unions, demand for a change in mission and vision, provision of quality services, reaching more destinations/regions (expanding), change of system of governance from top down to bottom up, accountability and transparency especially in providing support to those affected (this pressure do come from the congregations) (Eason, 2003).

To address most of the mentioned issues thorough negotiations is key. For the issue of better pay and retirement packages, forming workers union as well as provision of better working environment it will be appropriate if a unit is formed composed of representative of all stakeholders and professional to discuss terms and conditions and arrive at an agreeable consensus. For issues relating to transparency and accountability, it will be appropriate for the organization to engage external auditors in auditing its operation via the three categories; compliance, accounting and performance.

The best approach to tackle the issue of changing governance style, there is need for both parties to present their points in a round table and evaluate or weigh the benefits before adopting it. Stakeholders’ quest to be actively involved in decision making call for the organization to come up with policies that clearly stipulate how that will be done to ensure that the unique and productive opinions of these significant stakeholders are incorporated in the final decisions (Fera, 1997). This will give them a sense of ownership and work for the betterment of Salvation Army.

The issues that the organization might face from the external stakeholders especially from the government and funders are accountability and transparency, provision of better and quality services, fairness in distribution of the aid, strict government regulations in terms of operation and licensing, conflicting roles between the organization and other social services providers, dictation on how to go about their business by (international aid agencies, the government and funders), anxiety and demand of more information especially by those who have missing relatives.

To resolve these issues, the organization need to adopt external/internal auditing mechanisms, harmonize its operation with those of other organizations that provide services to the society, initiate a unit that will be overseeing everything about missing persons as well as providing counseling services to the families and providing accurate information about such persons. In terms of government restriction, there is need for the organization to convince the respective government on its mission and dispel any fear from the government. Lastly, it is responsible for the organization to comply with laws, rules and regulations of the respective governments.

The last groups that can raise very serious issues with the organization include alcohol providers and suppliers as well as the gambling industry.

How should the Salvation Army organize itself in terms of governance and strategic vision?

With the concept that governance means the process by which decisions are arrived at and implemented and or not implemented, in my own opinion, however sophisticated the structure is, without certain characteristics, Salvation Army governance cannot be termed good.

At present, Salvation Army governance is made up of; the high council comprised of active commissioners and officers that run the various territories. Their function is to address issues relating to succession. The generals consultative council made up of all officers that qualify to attend high council are shoulder the responsibility of advising the organization on mission, strategy as well as policies issues. They meet four-times per year. Lastly, the international management council which meets once a month oversees that headquarter is run and operates efficiently and effectively.

I propose that although the governance structure remains the way it is, there is need to foster not only the top-down style but also the bottom-up style of governance. This approach will complement the centralized system of governance and bring in more of a participatory governance style (Ansoff, 1965). This will ensure that efforts of various stakeholders are evaluated and when included in making decision, these individuals will not deny the fact that indeed there ideas were there giving them a sense of ownership vey significant in any successful organization.

The organization opts to adopt the following characteristics to ensure good governance;

Comply with the law; through its structure, it is necessary for the organization to put up measures that will help it comply with various laws of different countries in which it operates. Additionally, it is important that it opens it door open for all men and women in the society to give their opinion that can be either direct or indirect.

Transparency and accountability by those shouldering the responsibility of running the organization is also paramount. Responsiveness which encompasses serving the stakeholders within a reasonable timeframe amounts to good governance. Being consensus oriented, embrace equity and inclusiveness as well as effectiveness and efficiency are key ingredients that when adopted by the organization, there is no doubt that it will survive the current challenges it is facing.

Although it is the desire of any organization to ensure that it stay relevant and competitive in this ever changing environment by constantly revising a number of issues such as mission, core values and more importantly the vision, it is important that the initial; primary objective opt to prevail. In this case, salvation army have to ensure that whatever the changes it is going to make concerning its strategic vision, it is of significance for it to acknowledge and incorporate its primary objective of evangelization.

Critically discuss the strategic choices that you think are pertinent to the strategic positioning of the Salvation Army

According to Allison & Kaye, 1997, strategic choice is the process of selecting one option amongst many to be implemented. This process starts with identifying viable available options. These strategies opt to answer the what, how, why, who and when questions.

There are seven areas that I deem to be pertinent to the strategic positioning of the Salvation Army. These include the following; finances, organizational structure, social responsibility, management style, strategic direction, marketing/channel linkages and business enterprise focus.

Whether or not  an organization is profit oriented, fundamental choices regard its markets that the organization targets as well as how it plans to cut it self an edge. Since there is an ever growing demand of human population that seeks more help, Salvation Army need to differentiate  its products and adopt a broader scope of doing business. There is need also for the organization to embrace advanced technology in carrying out its day to day activities (Mintzberg, & Quinn, 1988). Additionally, more efforts should be placed in looking for younger and energetic members who will step in the shoes of the ageing members.

In terms of strategic direction, growth is of concern and if not well planned for, the organization is at risk of losing it acquired name in the globe. It needs to continue specializing in areas of providing homes, relief, education, healthcare services as well as employment. Additionally, there is need to form partnership and collaboration with other firms such as community based organization, local NGOs to ease its operations (Hay, 1990). As the organization grows, there is also need to diversify in terms of geographic location as well as products and services for instance counseling.

To ensure that it appeals and wins the hearts of funders and other stakeholders, Salvation Army need to foster transparency and accountability. This can be done via auditing in three angles, compliance, and performance as well as accounting. When this is done, the organization will be able withstand the risk, an example of poor financial management is in Red Cross. In addition there is need for the organization to broaden the sources of donors; this will meet its growing demand for resources to meet the expanding number of person that are in need of assistance.

Since the organization is human-centered, the general public are more concerned upon the services they are being provided with, the money they donate tend to be an issue. For these reasons, Salvation Army needs to communicate its good stewardship practices, actively indulge the community in its activities.

Although the organization allows the varied territories to be autonomous, a blend of top-down and bottom up kind of governance will ensure a democratic environment very paramount for an organization that need to be successful and effective in service delivery. Since it depends largely on donation, down sizing will be of great help (Colin, & Ackerman, 1998). In case internal stakeholders raise issues relating to better pay, the only best option is to down size and add benefits including salaries. There is need for the organization to put measure in place to ensure that its members as well as employees are provided with opportunities to learn new skills.

The structure of Salvation Army in my opinion is excellent, what it need to do is to ensure that the decision made by the respective authority do encompass the views of other relevant stakeholders. It is also necessary for the organization after negotiating with governments and still hold the opinion that that it is still being harassed; the only choice is to withdraw.

Marketing and forming linkages is another choice that needs to be undertaken by Salvation Army. Despite the fact that it is an NPO, there is need to publicize itself, this might make governments that the organization have not yet pitch camped in such a country request/encourage it to do so, this is good for growth and expansion of the firm. Additionally, to cut cost tremendously, forming linkages with suppliers of various services such as medical, education, and food is key (Polyack, 1999).

What could the organization do in order to sustain their growth and success in the future?

From the mentioned choices, there are those that dictate more about organization’s success and growth. this include looking for more youthful and energetic youths who will be a great resource at present and in future, enhance financial accountability and transparency, adopt a democratic way of leadership that is decentralized, link and collaborate with other relevant stakeholders for smooth running of activities (Lake,  & Powell, 1999).

In addition, Salvation Army opt to broaden sources of its resources, continue with its organization culture of a strong caring ethos, continual understanding of peoples’ need, trustworthiness and sincerity and the commitment to help the needy, down size to cut down on expenditure costs, adopting advanced technology in running its business, set up mechanisms in which in allows internal training (skill acquisition).

Finally, salvation army opt to carefully balance there activities with varied governments core values so that it continues to be a recognized force in the entire world as an organization that spread the gospel and put what it preaches in practice (Stone et al., 1999).

Conclusion

The Salvation Army is an internationally recognized charitable organization whose primary objective is to evangelize. It is engaged in various activities such as education, provision of relief to the needy, provision of healthcare services and caring for the homeless.

It has been noted that no organization is static but continuously face the challenge of expanding and growing to meet the increasing need of those who need their services. In this case, Salvation Army faces the same challenge, the bigger one is to ensure they expand and do not deviate from its primary objective of spreading the word of God. This can be achieved by strategic management as there are issues that might be raised by various stakeholders, not addressing them appropriately and timely may make the organization flop.

To ensure success and sustain growth, salvation army need to register younger members, expand the base in which they obtain resource, embrace accountability and transparency, adopt democratic system of governance, corporate and link with other stakeholders, down size, embrace technology and more importantly, carefully balance it operation with various requirements of governments.

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