Before developing and implementing a business strategy, it is important for any company, involved in any market, to know what the macro–environment that will be dealt with is. Of course, this in no way guarantees that a business will succeed in its specific market, but it is clear that it is better to know the path that is being traded on. It is always better to avoid surprises, especially in business ventures (knowledge makes it easier for companies to anticipate and go around problematic situations that might come up in the future). When studying a macro environment, there are four major areas that must be considered: politics, economics, society/culture and technology. These are the areas that will be analyzed in this section; this will show what the environment that BP has to deal with on the aforementioned areas, considering ethical implications where those may exist.
The company must deal with pressure groups within the United Kingdom and overseas, demanding that the company exercise ethical, as well as environment friendly, business practices. Government and OPEC’s regulations affect the way in which the market operates. Taxes, price roofs, production quotas, etc., will all affect the industry’s performance (British Petroleum, 2009). The latest recession that the world economy experienced undoubtedly affected the oil industry, including BP; both gas and oil prices decreased and investment in the sector declined significantly in the last few years. The economy needs to bounce back after the recession, and given that fossil fuels are still the main source of energy for production, the companies operating in the industry will have an extraordinary opportunity to recover from the negative impact that the recession and the Deepwater Horizon oil spill had on the market.
Society still depends on oil, as the main source of energy, and this will continue to be so into the future; oil is used for transportation, warmth, nutrition, etc. However, people are beginning to worry about the environment as well, so the challenge is for the industry to continue producing the oil that society needs, but in ways that minimize the damage done to the environment.
Given the increased preoccupation that society displays toward ethics in business, the industry (which, of course, includes BP) will have to commit more strongly to ethical, socially responsible, business practices (as this will translate into customer loyalty). If the industry continues to implement unethical business practices (or business practices perceived as unethical or unjust by the public), this will surely have a profoundly negative impact on the company`s sales and image (British Petroleum, 2009). Technology has become an integral part of our lives. In business, technology has been decisive in increasing productivity, efficiency, and growth. Therefore, the industry stands to benefit greatly from incorporating technology into the way of doing business. New, environment friendly production technologies include the production of new forms of energy apart from fossil fuels.
In moving on to Asda, in terms of political considerations, any legislation changes that affect the taxation system will surely affect Asda, since the company will be forced to comply with what the legislation dictates. For example, in 2010 the legislation was changed for Value Added Tax (VAT), which was increased from 15% to 20%. The alternative would be to increase prices on products in order to keep margins constant, but consumers did not really like this proposition. This, of course, translates to a long-lasting effect on Asda’s revenues. Furthermore, roughly 8 out of every 10 moms (85 per cent) said they feared that a rise in VAT would precede a rise in National Insurance and a reduction in child tax credits (Asda, 2010).
In terms of its economic implications, Asda will have more customers than before, but the average spending per each customer will drop because people will have less disposable income to spend. This, of course, will be a direct consequence of the most recent economic recession that hit the economy. As unemployment continues to rise, the EURO will continue to lose value. That means no matter how low the Bank of England keeps the interest rates down, the British pound will continue to be stronger than the Euro. This will lead to deficit in the country’s commercial balance; therefore, imports will flood into the UK in a greater level than exports leave the country.
Furthermore, because of the economic crisis unemployment will rise (it will display an upward trend). People will have less money to spend, and as a result they will choose cheaper shops, goods and services. In terms of general merchandising and grocery products, most consumers will turn to ASDA given its low prices (which in part owe to the fact that discount retailing is one of its core business activities). Based on this, Asda stands to lose from decreased spending from consumers on one side, but it might also stand to gain from discount retailing on the other side (as consumers go to stores that offer the most economical prices). Given the current economic situation, it is not outrageous to propose that within the next five years Asda could seriously challenge Tesco Plc.’s leadership over the market.
Ageing population is increasing as a proportion of the country’s entire population. This creates a decreased demand of goods and services in all sectors of the economy, given that senior citizens have lesser resources and income to purchase high-end products and luxury items. They also lack the resources to indulge in an increased consumption pattern. As well, the lifestyle changes associated with old age also stand to affect Asda. Business hours, for example, might be modified in order to accommodate the shopping patterns of senior citizens; this could increase the company s operational costs. The extent of this impact varies, depending on how well the economy is doing. Customers often need change. Therefore, they will have different requirements during the year, causing more spending in some months and hardly any in other months.
In relation to Asda, energy consumption and carbon footprints will continue to improve so that the company has less negative impact on the environment. Julian Walker-Palin, Head of Corporate Policy for Sustainability and Ethics at Asda Stores, says: “Unlike many of our competitors, we're not adding more labeling. We're directing our efforts at making all our products lower in carbon". He also added: "Asda still gives choice over, say, organic goods, but we don't expect customers to have to compare otherwise identical products on the basis of label information. We don't expect them to be sustainability experts and they don't have huge amounts of disposable income, but they are concerned about the environment, so we have to make sustainability affordable" (Asda, 2010). That means a tighter focus on sustainability also gives Asda unexpected insights into its processes.
Asda has been reducing carbon emissions across as many parts of the business as possible since 2005. In 2007, the company started measuring emissions produced from its operations, including its stores, offices, etc. It means Asda can assess its carbon footprint, figure out where it impacts greatly, and measure progress on reducing them. By 2011 the company had taken more than 148,000 tons of CO2 out of Asda’s operations. The extent of the impact can be seen when observing that despite opening 36 new stores in 2005-2010, a 7% reduction in the carbon footprint was seen between 2007 and 2009, the equivalent of 80,000 tons of CO2. Furthermore, Asda achieved an 11.9% reduction in the carbon footprint between 2007 and 2010, the equivalent of more than 148,000 tons of CO2 (Asda, 2010). It is Asda’s objective to remove 20 million metric tons of CO2 out of the company`s global supply chain by 2015.
Based on what has been stated it becomes clear that all businesses have a good side and a bad side. The same applies to people: every person has a good side and a bad side. Following this line of thought it can be said that everyone also has the best side (and the worst side). This paper contains my personal reflection. In this reflection I try to make an honest, objective portrayal of who I am, so that other people, when they read it, can get a general idea of the kind of person that I am. Now, as I admit that it is not always easy for a person to make a completely 100% objective assessment of who they are, I have interviewed five people, including relatives, friends, and people who know me relatively well (associations, if you will). Through their input I hoped to get a good idea of the kind of person I am. I believe that even though it is important for a person to recognize who he/she is and how he/she acts when they are at his/her best. This provides an insight to what is being done right; besides, it is also helpful to understand how a person behaves when he or she is not at his or her best (because it makes character flaws and vices more evident, and therefore, easier to manage and correct).
The Interviews Process
The interviews I realized have been completed. The assessment comprised of a thorough analysis and integration with my own believes and ideas of who I am, so now it is possible to look back on the entire process as well as its outcomes and reflect about it. The first thing that I would like to say about the process is that it was truly difficult (more so than I could have ever imagined). I thought that it would be just a series of meetings where I would talk to other people, ask them some questions, write down their answers, and, based on those answers, prepare a report about my own perception of myself and how I am seen by others. However, I never thought that sitting down with other people and making them tell you what they think about you (both when you are at your best and when you are not) was going to be so difficult. During this part of the process I realized that it is easier to talk about other people than about yourself.
Notwithstanding the difficulty that the first part of the process entailed, I was able to complete it, and if you ask me, I think that I was able to do it because even though each person had things to say, that were not so good, they also had some very good things to say. And, as all humans love they are praised and recognized by others, I just managed to cope with the interviews, because of how good it felt when people, after saying what they disliked about me, went on talking about what they liked and in some cases even admired about me.
Having said this, I completed the five interviews in one week, even if there were some schedule problems when appointing an interview with people I chose to interview. After I finished the interviews, however, a second challenge emerged. I sat down on my desk and found myself with a notebook filled with notes and no real idea what to do with them. I mean, I knew that I had to read over the notes, analyze what had been said, interiorize it, and integrate it into my mindset in order to grow as a person, and naturally, enhance my best side, while at the same time trying to eliminate my worst side completely, but I was not sure about how I could do it. After much thought and consideration, I decided that I would not work myself up over this whole thing. I started by first reading what each person had said about me, and after each interview I assessed what had been said and tried to figure out what I agreed with and what I disagreed with. This took me one whole day, but afterwards I had finished reading and assessing all notes. Even though I initially was unable to recognize the bad things about me, I later on reassessed my own actions (both past and present) and I started to see why such things had been said. In the end I recognized that I always thought of myself as a good person, but I could do better. There were some serious flaws that impeded me from being a better person.
Each person I spoke with told me exactly what they thought about me and the kind of person that I was. They did highlight my best sides, but when it was time to discuss what they felt were my worst character flaws they were just as outspoken. I found it a bit rude and somewhat callous at first, but now I realize it was neither. In fact, I can say that they spoke like that because they appreciate me and want me to be a better person. Because of this, I would like to take just a quick moment and thank these people who contributed to the realization of this reflection paper. It truly would have been impossible for me to get it done without them.
Finally, it is time for me to provide the feedback and insights that I got from the whole process. I always considered myself to be a transparent person (one of those “what you get is what you see” type of people). However, before now, I never sought others out to see if their thoughts about the person I was were consistent with my personal thoughts on who I felt I was. For starters, I have always seen myself as an organized and responsible person; I think I am a serious person that can indulge in the occasional joke but does not take jest too well. In other words, I admit that for the most part I am an uptight person. However, I have also considered myself to be generous, noble, and sincere. I am the kind of person who likes to help others, and even though I may come across like a distant, unsympathetic person, I am always available for anyone who needs help. Now, moving on to my bad side, I guess that apart from the fact that I am too uptight, I would have to say that I also have a haughty character (which is not good) and I tend to believe that my way of doing things is always the right or the best one. All in all, I have always felt that despite not being a perfect person I have always been a good person that needs to work on some things in order to become better.
The first person that I decided to meet with was my father. I felt that, as no one knows me better than him, no one could provide a more thorough description of my personality than him. I braced myself to hear both the good and the bad, and both things surely came. My father recognized my nobility and generosity; he told me that I was one of the most generous people that he had ever met. However, he did not approve my haughty character and my distant demeanor. He told me that it was a pity that I drove people away without giving myself the opportunity of showing them all the good things that I had to offer. Something similar happened with my girlfriend and my best friend. They both knew me and they recognized that I was really a good person with a good heart and that I always had other people’s best interests in mind. However, the way in which I behaved, especially when I was around people I did not know, made it impossible for other people to see this. My girlfriend went on and told me that she thought that the problem was that I took myself too seriously, that I judged myself too hard, and that I was timid. Finally, I spoke with my two classmates; they are not my friends, but they do know me, as I have worked on a couple of group projects with them. They were forthcoming and they told me that they liked me because of my honesty, my commitment, my responsibility, and my generosity (as I helped them when their workload was too high more than once). However, they had to say that I was too haughty and this made me come across as a rude person, as someone that other people would never care to get to know better.
I know that I am not perfect, but I think that the image that other people have come to develop of me, despite not being too positive, is accurate. I did not recognize it at first, but I am a person who avoids prolonged contact with other people (especially with people that I do not know), and I have also come to realize that my haughty temperament has many times gotten in the way of my relationships with other people (including my own family). I really appreciate the honesty of people I interviewed, and I thank them for highlighting my best sides. I know now that I must direct my efforts towards improving my overall demeanor, so that people recognize my nobility and generosity (and even my shy friendliness).