CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION

1.1 Overview

Integration of finance function and corporate strategy is the crucial task which determines the long run growth of firm in the marketplace. It integrates all business activities and enables the management to reduce cost of production so as to increase sales turnover. Also, it creates certainty for future business activities and assists management to give upward direction to business. An organization carries out various finance activities which helps in achieving the long term growth. There are different finance activities such as forecasting, financial planning and allocation of financial resources according to specified objectives (Elmassri and Harris, 2011). Along with that, utilizing funds and disposal of profit or surplus are also considered as an important activity for the organization. However, these activities are aligned with corporate strategy so that company can effectively cope up with changing scenario and ensure long run growth of the same in the marketplace.

On the other hand, every corporate strategy is followed by financial decision. It is because success of corporation highly depends on the financial capability. Owing to this, several appropriate finance activities are performed with the help of which the company can access to cost effective sources of finance. Furthermore, corporate strategies can be related to expansion, product development and market development. These strategies generate huge requirement for financial resources and for the same organization is required  to take appropriate decisions in advance (Nyamori, 2009). For example, if company is planning to adopt specified strategy then management must ensure that it has available financial resources to implement the strategy in the organization. In this regard, different financial control measures are taken by the management  so that companies can avail enough finance for new strategy which it wants to implement (Finance activities, 2015).

Furthermore, by lining up financial activities with corporate strategies, management of corporation should reduce the uncertainty for future business activities. With this, companies can ensure competitive edge in the marketplace by increasing the rate of return. This not only helps to ensure long run growth but also assists the management to assure about sustainability aspect of businesses. Similarly, management will be able to estimate the requirement of financial resources and accordingly effective controlling activities can be implemented for the same (Finance function insight, 2015). It depicts that proper collaboration in financial and strategic activities makes it possible for the corporation to reduce additional expenses to a great extent. It further increases scope of increased rate of return as well as customer base (Schoute and Wiersma 2011).

The current dissertation has been done on the retail industry of UK. It provides wide range of products and services to number of buyers. This provides huge employment opportunity to local community in different sectors. It consists of several sectors like customer  services, visual merchandising and warehouse as well as supply chain. Apart from this, different department of retail corporations like finance, human resources as well as marketing and IT department have huge requirement of competent personnel. Further, retail sector of UK is leader in term of innovation (Vinal, Umesh and Mary, 2014). It caters need of customers by providing them with high end services and further assists in increasing their level of satisfaction to a great extent. Further, many of the international brands have opened their stores in UK in order to increase sales turnover as well as profitability. Similarly, many events are organized in UK like London Fashion weeks and Olympics which invite customers from overseas. This in turn has increased the scope of local retailers in an effectual manner. Companies operating in retail sector of UK deals in clothing, grocery and fashion products. Along with that other specific products like electronic, cosmetics are also provided by the firms.

The corporations which are undertaken for collecting primary data are Tesco, Marks & Spencer and Morrison’s. John Lewis partnership and Sainsbury have also been considered. These organizations are outperforming in the marketplace and have potential to expand itself at the global level. All these corporations formulate several corporate strategies and ensure that all financial  activities are aligned with same. With this, company can effectively run their businesses and creates competitive edge in the marketplace. However, the improper management of financial resources forces the management in managing all business activities effectively. Further, managing financial activities is not only the crucial aspect for long run growth but also it creates value for the invested money (Herbert, Murphy and Wilson, 2004). It aids to meet the expectations of all stakeholders. Apart from this, value creation opportunities are assessed by proper assessment of internal or external environment. It facilitates to improve efficiency of company and expand the same at global marketplace. In this regard, efforts are also made by corporation to strengthen overall finance capabilities which give upward direction to the business. Similarly, weaknesses related to finance need to be evaluated properly which in turn enables the management to implement right strategy on the right time. It proves to be effective to achieve short as well as long term objectives. Apart from this, finance activities eliminate less important information in order to take appropriate decision for achieving long run growth. In addition to this, financial activities ensure proper control related to taxes, cash flow and working capital (Higson, 2003). It provides full support to managerial strategies and aids them to achieve specified objectives effectively.

1.2 Significance of the study

The study under investigation is important because retail industry of UK is highly innovative. Owing to this, all corporations operating in retail sector must put effort to align their finance activities with corporate strategies. It is the only mean to ensure long run growth of the firm with increased rate of return. However, the current study is helpful for all sectors like service, hospitality etc. By this, management will come to know about the issues which being faced in ensuring long run growth of the firm. Thus, current research is helpful to propose different ways through which various corporations can align their finance activities with corporate strategies. Apart from this, study lays emphasis on different finance activities employed within the company along with their role in fulfillment of corporate objectives. With this, different retail companies can come to know about the linkage of finance function with their proposed strategy so as to create competitive edge in the marketplace. It proves to be effective to meet expectations of customers and reduce the cost of production.

Furthermore, current study is also helpful for researchers who are conducting their studies in the same field. It is because prevailing study will serve as the source of data collection for them. Further, business or other industries which are facing issues in implementing their corporate strategies will also get benefits from this dissertation. It will help thew management to highlight key issues and resources constraint that can be addressed in advance. Apart from this, present study is also helpful in academic point of view as it provides critical evaluation for studies which are done previously. Thus, proposed study is helpful in resolving various issues that are faced  by industry as well as other related parties. In addition to this, study will serve as the source of information for those who are conducting their thesis.

1.3 Rationale behind study

Finance and corporate strategy both are the imperative aspect of the long run growth and development of the firm. It assists management to carry out all business activities in accordance with specified objectives. The corporate strategy includes different operational activities of business which are performed to achieve the desired objectives of company.  However, finance activities are also performed in the same direction so that company can achieve its specified objectives within the stipulated time span. However, retail sector of UK is developing at rapid speed but the organization  operating under the same are facing intense competition.  Furthermore, integration of financial activities and corporate strategy proves to be helpful in successful implementation of corporation of strategy. The reason behind alignment of these two aspects is to ensure long run growth of the firm with increased rate of return. Also, this will have positive impact on performance of a corporation because this will help the management to achieve long term objectives and reduce additional cost to a great extent. Owing to this, current study is being conducted to propose different ways through which finance function can be aligned with corporate strategies. This becomes the strength of retail industry because both finance activities and corporate strategy are handled by the upper level of management.

This way, current study will be helpful in implementing strategy on the right time and reducing cost of production to a great extent. Further, this study proves to be effective for gaining competitive edge and meeting requirement of number of customers in an appropriate manner. In addition to this, study is being conducted to ensure optimum utilization of limited resources and time so that company can achieve long term objectives effectively. The findings of study will be beneficial in managerial aspect as with the help of this they can address barriers in growth and success of companies. Other than this, study assists management of retail corporations to perform finance activities effectively and link the same with corporate objectives. In addition to this, current study focuses on strategic issues faced by retail sector. It will help to  address those issues with integration of financial activities and corporate strategy.

1.4 Research, Aim & Objectives

The aim and objectives of the study have been specified as follows. It provides basic guidelines to the researcher to collect and analyze the data in an appropriate manner-

Aim

Objectives

The aforementioned objectives are helpful in conducting study in a structural manner as it develops a deep understanding regarding the topic under investigation. It enables the researcher to collect data in an appropriate manner so to draw valid outcomes from the same. It also proves to be effective in proposing valid suggestions for the retail sector.

Research questions

The research questions for the proposed study have been listed as follows-

The above listed research questions are formulated according to research aim and objectives. It enables the scholar to gather large amount of data and use the same for fulfilling research aim. Furthermore, with the help of research questions, valid outcome can be drawn so that management can take corrective action at the time of implementing the corporate strategies.

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1.5 Framework and analysis

Framework and analysis is the most important part of study because it includes number of tools and techniques. For the current study on identification of different ways through which finance function can be aligned, following tools and techniques have been used. These tools are appropriate in achieving specified objectives and deriving valid conclusion out of the same.

Research design- Research design is the effective means to present the report in a specified format. Here, in the present research, descriptive research design has been used in order to conduct study in a structural manner whereby readers can easily understand findings of the same.

Research type- The current research will be conducted on the basis of qualitative approach. This approach proves to be effective to analyze the data in theoretical aspect and it aids in producing valid outcome from the collected data in the direction of aim and objectives of study.

Research approach- The research under investigation will be based on inductive approach in which the study will move from general to specific direction. The research approach decides the path of study and helps the scholar to gather data in an appropriate manner. Furthermore, use of inductive approach facilitates in developing deep understanding regarding decision to be made by aligning finance activities with corporate strategies.

Research philosophy- For the current research on different ways through which finance activities can be aligned with corporate strategies, interpretivism philosophy has been used. It aids in developing deep in-sight about the topic so that valid outcome can be generated.

Data collection- For the current research, data will be collected from both primary and secondary sources. In this regard, primary sources such as questionnaire have been used in order approach respondents. On the other hand, secondary sources like journals, books and published material have been referred for creating strong database.

Data analysis- In order to analyze the collected data, qualitative method has been used. However, thematic analysis has been applied to analyze the collected data. Here, overall analysis will be done in accordance with individual themes. Furthermore, thematic analysis provides detail discussion for gathered information so that research can effectively produce fruitful outcome in the light of research aim and objectives.

1.6 Structure of the study

The structure of dissertation consists of five chapter which helps to present overall information in an appropriate manner. It also enables the readers to understand the key issues, ration of the study along with solutions of the research problem. For the current study on analysis of different ways through which finance activities can be aligned with corporate strategies are listed as follows-

Chapter 1introduction: It is the first chapter of dissertation that consists of detail information related to topic under investigation. This includes topics like background, rationale of the study as well as aim and objectives. Further, potential significance of study is also explained by which readers can understand focus and purpose of the study.

Chapter 2 Literature Review: It is the second chapter of dissertation in which the strong data base is created for the research topic. It aids to develop deep understanding among researchers so that they can propose valid suggestions. . Further, this chapter lays emphasis on studies done previously. Apart from this, critical evaluation is also done for the collected data which enables the researcher to fulfill formulated research questions effectively.

Chapter 3 Research Methodology: At the completion of literature review, research move towards next chapter which is of research methodology. It consists of different tools and techniques for data collection and analysis. Thus, this chapter will provide detail explanation of each of tools which are being used in the current study.

Chapter 4 Data findings and analysis: The chapter following the research methodology is data analysis. In this chapter evaluation of collected data is done in accordance with research aim and objectives. This in turn helps to propose valid suggestions. In addition to this, appropriate techniques will be applied to draw valid conclusion from collected data.

Chapter 5 Conclusion and Recommendations: It is the last chapter of dissertation which concludes overall study in brief. Here, emphasis is laid on secondary data and data analysis chapter. This proves to be effective in drawing valid conclusion and providing suggestions in the light of research aim and objectives. In addition to this, recommendation will provide valid suggestions in for aligning finance function with corporate strategies so that corporation can achieve their long term objectives easily.

1.7 Research limitations

Research always consists of some limitations and researcher also must take all them into considerations. For the present study on identification of different ways through which finance activities can be aligned with corporate strategies for achieving long term objectives different research limitations have been considered. These limitations are related to data collection process which creates barriers in completing study on the right time. Here, problems may be faced at the time of collecting data. At the time of collecting primary data there may be problem related to population. This is because small number of population cannot be considered for the common view points of all targets populations. However, appropriate number of respondents has been selected in order to resolve this issue. Further, some of the sites were restricted to use thereby it might be possible that some important data are left to include in the study. Although, prior information have been taken for the sites in order to access important data. Further, citation of the collected data is also done which determines the ethical conduct of overall study.

CHAPTER 2: LITERATURE REVIEW

2.1 Introduction

Literature review is one of the most important chapters of dissertation because it creates strong database in which the researcher reach at the aim of the study. It includes number of secondary research conducted previously which helps in developing deep understanding on topic under investigation. The literature review is also the effective means to recognize existing gap of the present study. With this, scholar can put efforts to investigate what has not been studied yet. Further, critical evaluation is also done in the secondary research thereby scholar develop strong theoretical base in the light of research objectives. For the current research on the topic identification of different ways through which finance activities can be aligned with corporate strategy have been explained constructively. The data collected for the study will highlight main studies which have been done in the same area.

2.2 Different finance activities employed within the organization

All the organizations perform different kinds of finance function activities for effective management of all business affairs. Without performing finance activities, an organization cannot move in the upward direction. It is very important for the firm to take appropriate fiancé finance decisions for to implement corporate strategy. According to Kaplan and Norton (2006) there are number of finance activities such as investment, finance, liquidity and dividend activities. All these activities are inter-connected and related to each other and they direct aim towards achieving long term goals. It assists the corporation to secure good position at workplace and create competitive edge. He further explained that, investment decision plays vital role as it helps to acquire, modify and replace the assets which are required for carrying out business activities. At this juncture, finance manager analyses the long term investment proposal and accordingly take decision for its acceptance or rejection.

Further, Holbeche (2009) asserted that, activities covered in taking investment decisions are net present value method, internal rate of return and accounting rate of return. These all activities help the management to take right decision for selection or rejection of the project on the basis of time taken in recovery of initial investment. The aspect of investment activities are directly related to the corporate strategy. This is because organization aligns their corporate strategy with major finance function so they can implement strategy in an effectual manner. He further stated that investment decisions are made by analyzing the internal and external factor of the corporation. Apart from this, upper level management and finance department coordinate with each other to fulfill the finance requirement of the corporate strategy.

Baier, Hartmann and Moser (2008) reported that, financial decisions are taken in accordance with proposed corporate strategy. In this regard, finance department access different sources of finance which can effectively meet the requirement of business. It consists of equity shares, bank loan, leasing companies and retained profitability.  However, cost and implication of different sources are considered while selecting the sources of finance. A counter argument might be that financial decisions are also taken to improve financial performance of the firm. This is considered just because to provide certainty for future business activities and increase the overall rate of return of an organization.

Chan, Sabherwal and Thatcher (2006) explained that, corporate strategies are growth, stability and renewal. All these strategies must require good amount of financial resources which determines increased rate of return. For example, if an corporation adopt growth strategy then it is required to arrange necessary resources for them same. At this juncture, company can implement strategy without any kind of barriers. He further argued that most of the time management also access to costly sources of finance. This is because it may incur cost of production at the initial stage. However, costly aspect of sources of finance gives profitability to the firm at certain point of time. Further, selection of internal and external sources of finance is followed by environmental analysis of an organization. Apart from this, recession and other significant factors also force the company to adopt appropriate strategies. Owing to this, management also needs to focus on favorable and unfavorable situation. This in result help an organization to align corporate strategy and finance function together so that long term objectives can be achieved successfully.. Similarly, finance executives coordinate with each other and prepare themselves to adjust with the prevailing conditions. This is one of the effective ways to cope up with change and put efforts in achieving long term objectives.

According to Huang and Hu (2007) dividend decisions are made according to current business situations. Here, net income after payment of dividend to preference shareholders belongs to equity shares. Furthermore, management also need to consider that  there are not any legal obligations to pay dividend to equity shareholders. In this regard, decisions are taken for allocating the remaining profit in most profitable alternatives. With this, corporation can achieve long as well as short term objectives productively.

Chan, Sabherwal and Thatcher (2006) report that several factor needs to be considered at the time of taking decision for dividend. It consists of legal provision, desire of shareholders, nature of industry and taxation as well as control factors. All these factors are considered by companies at the time of declaring dividend. For example, financially weak investors tend to prefer dividend on right time rather than seeking growth of corporation. This could be challenged on the basis that other stakeholders may not be satisfied. Owing to this, management of an organization ensures well being of involved parties. It is one of the effective means to determine long run growth of the firm with increased rate of return.

According to Decoene and Bruggeman (2006) number of financial factors affects dividend decision of an organization. These factors are; dividend per share, face value, dividend payout ratio and current ratio. It enables the management to take right decision in the light of main objectives of the company. It shows that corporate policies or strategies affect dividend decision of management. In this regard these two activities are aligned together. For example, in case of expansion strategy company can allocate remaining profit in investment activity only. However, this may result in dissatisfaction of some of shareholders but will provide enough monetary benefit for the firm. This shows that coordination among all departments must be ensured so that finance activities can be performed accordingly.

According to Kearns and Sabherwal (2006) working capital decisions lies in most important finance function as it serves as the backbone of the firm. Decisions related to working capital are made for managing current assets like bills receivables, cash balance as well as inventory. Here, value creation opportunities are referred by the business because management gets necessary information for smooth flow of production. This proves to be effective for long run growth of the firm because working capital is arranged by managing cash effectively. Similarly, decisions related to credit period are taken in context of suppliers as well debtors. This makes it possible to ensure enough liquidity in the firm in which customer requirement of cash can be fulfilled without any kind of barriers. Further, short term decision is required to be taken for fulfilling the need of working capital.

Velcu (2010) states that credit policies are formulated according to the business situation. For example in case if company is running through lack of cash then it may reduce the credit period given to debtors. On the other hand, credit purchase time can also be extended so as to ensure smooth flow of production and to meet the requirement of customers effectively. Likewise, cash conversion is the effective aspect for arranging working capital on right time. It depicts that there must be enough availability of liquidity in an organization so that corporation can meet its short term obligations. Thus, decisions related to credit policy also highly depends on the corporate strategy. It facilitates in reducing cost of production and retaining large number of buyers. Further, management of financial activities consists of broad part thereby production flow can be maintained and expectations of different stakeholders can be met.

According to Al-Debei and Avison (2010) routine finance activities are the key driver of business management. These finance activities assists the organization to carry out all business activities effectively and manage other actions purposed in the direction of growht and expansion of corporation . In this regard, proper reporting is done for the financial performance of the company so that stakeholders get right information in the appropriate time. Further, safeguarding cash balance is also  major activities through which corporate strategy can be implemented successfully.

Aguilera, Filatotchev, Gospel and Jackson (2008) asserted that credit management is another routine activity by which company develops relationship among suppliers and customers. This in turn proves to be effective for speeding up the flow of production. Furthermore, developing good relationship with stakeholders indicates good image of firm in the marketplace. Along with that, supervision of cash receipts and payment is the daily finance activities through which settlements are done in an effectual manner.

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2.3 Role of finance activities in fulfilling corporate objectives

According to Kathuria Joshi and Porth (2007) main finance activities are helpful in giving right strategic direction to the organization. Finance activities delivers value through management of business performance. It helps in giving upward direction to business as management makes use of effective tools and techniques. However, finance is the imperative requirement of businesses where companies prepare and plan internal financial information. This information facilitates to implement effective strategy in which the company can get increased rate of return. However finance function is considered as an effective means to improve business performance of the company. This is because finance department of an organization manages different activities of the company so as to give upward direction to business. For example, finance activities consider stakeholders of the firm and try to meet their requirement effectively. In this regard, Stakeholders theory has been explained which is as follows-

According to the shareholder’s theory of organization is not merely responsible towards shareholders but also other internal as well as external parties who are associated with it. Here, internal stakeholders are basically the shareholders, employees and management. On the other hand, customers, suppliers, creditors and government as well as competitors are the external parties who are indirectly connected with the firm. According to Schuler and Cording (2006) shareholders are required to pay timely return. Also, they must be provided with information on right time by publishing annual report. Similarly, by using range of finance activities, the corporation ensures that owner's capital is being utilized effectively. The finance activity directly works towards meeting expectations of shareholders which in turn determines the long run growth of the firm.

Hu and Huang (2006) stated that employees are also the internal stakeholder who requires timely payment, fair compensation on the services which they provide for the company. They seek for job security as well as their personal growth which help them to meet their career goals effectively. At this juncture, retail industry of UK has provision of proper working conditions and equal treatment with all employees. However, employee’s law of UK is strictly followed by the sector in order to increase level of satisfaction among personnel. Likewise, retail sector is also responsible towards customers. Further, product related issues are resolved with quick response so as to increase customer satisfaction and retain them for longer time span. Also, efforts are made by retailers to build good relationship with consumers which aid to generate positive attitude among them. Hatch and Schultz (2008) stated that supplier’s expectations are fulfilled through placing regular order, payment of dues on right time and dealing on the basis of fair terms and conditions. Furthermore for creditors, the company must provide necessary information on right time and avail fair return on money invested by them. This builds confidence among creditors as they get interest and see financial stability of firm. In addition to this, competitors are also provided with good environment with ethical practices and fair trading. Moreover, retail sector is also responsible towards the government. In this regard, taxes are paid on right time by following specified rules and regulations.

Chandra (2011) reported that the main objectives of retail sectors are increasing sales turnover, expanding business and covering large market. Along with that retention of customers as well as employees, high profitability and creating goodwill of firm in the marketplace are the main objectives. In order to accomplish these objectives finance function plays vital role. For example, for retaining workforces monetary reward are designed which in turn assist in fulfilling specified objectives of firm. Further, Versteeg and Bouwman (2006) explained that by adopting different cost strategies overall cost of production is reduced to a great extent. This aspect is directly linked with profit maximization of the firm. It shows that cost strategy is also one of the most important finance function activities which affect both sales turnover as well as rate of return. With this, pricing strategies can also be changed in order to provide products and services in affordable prices. This again helps to attract buyers and helps in creating goodwill of the firm in the marketplace.

Kirkpatrick (2009) stated that, finance manage delivers important information to management with regard to excess return so that accordingly they can plan for developing new strategy. It assists in boosting the productivity and ensures overall development of growth of retail sector. A counter argument might be that ineffective financial management cause huge loss for the industry. This can be happened because of adverse external factors like economic policies (recession). However, use of cost  effective sources of finance can give strategic direction to the companies for achieving their objectives. It is again questionable that whether organization is able to pay cost of debt or not and then accordingly financial assistance is taken. Owing to this, it is very important for retail sector to keep  current and non-current assets so as to get finance in case of emergency.

Furthermore, De Haes and Van Grembergen (2009) reported that finance communications and change management is the alternative way to accomplish organizational objectives. Under this, finance employees are provided training to manage cash in the light of objectives. This in turn proves to be effective for managing change at the workplace. Thus, finance function plays leading role in implementing strategy. Piercy (2009) analyzed that different finance activities contribute to organizational performance. However, close scrutiny of financial activities are done to achieve set objectives. At this critical point, retail sector ensure that companies are hiring competent chief financial officer who are experienced enough in managing financial activities of the business.

According to Lindholm, Gibler and Leväinen (2006) finance department of company allocate assets in the most effective manner which generates high rate of return. At the same time, it is also decided that at what time company can take liability. For instance, corporation wants to execute two projects at the time but it does not have enough finance to fund both of them. In such kind of circumstances management has to take decision to borrow money so as to fund both the projects. Apart from this, finance department of company selects right project and invests money in the same as per the specified long as well as short term objectives. It might be argued that  external factors (sudden changes in technology, political party) can affect decision of the firm after some time.

According to Chou and Chang (2008) finance department of the company covers all business activities related to marketing, finance, production and human resources as well as research and  development. These are the foremost way to achieve objectives and creating goodwill of the firm in the marketing. An alternative explanation might be that finance function is directly related to success and growth of any corporation. He further stated that, effective management of finance generally tends to give competitive edge of the firm and further it also creates  distinctive identity at the marketplace.

2.4 Relationship between finance activities and corporate strategies for achieving long term goals

Finance activities and corporate strategies are inter-linked thereby management can effectively accomplish long term objectives. According to Gates (2006) through the help of finance function management of an organization identifies operational and financial risks. After identification of risk, necessary actions are taken to improve the same. On the other hand, corporate strategies generally evaluate different resources and availability of enough finance. However, estimation is done for arranging other sources by allocating finance for different activities. In this regard global operating model is considered which consists of three layers such as resource, organization and execution. Here, execution layer comprises of policy, process and performance measurement. Also, data, people and technology are included which serve as the resource layer. Each of these layer helps in determining the strategic direction of firm so as to achieve long term goal successfully. Further, this model depict that top down approach is the effective means through which corporation can easily manage changes as well as all other finance activities in the organization.

He further stated that, two components such as organization and process must be focused so that specified objectives can be accomplished. Furthermore, it is like value adding process in which overall cost of production can be reduced to a great extent. It also enables the management to change finance function program and implement the corporate strategy according to set criteria. Furthermore, organizational layer can also work on the basis of outsourcing so that retail industry of UK can expand itself at global level with rapid speed.  Apart from this, resources layer assists companies to implement the proposed strategy. In this regard, people with appropriate skills are placed at the right place. Similarly, data standards and common charts of accounts are prepared so that different business activities can be performed by referring the same. Apart from this, technology helps the company to perform value adding financial task. Thus, finance operating model serves as 360 degree appraisal by which an organization can achieve its objective without any kind of barriers.

According to Galbreath (2010) alignment of finance function and corporate strategy is ensured with the help of three major activities. It comprises of strategic plan, business plan and financial plan. However, finance department of every organization serves as the business partner and advisor so that accordingly the management can plan for future business activity. In this regard, outcomes are set for each level so that management consider the same in case of variations between actual and expected results are found. For example, financial plans are made on the basis of budget, forecast and actual results. This in turn proves to be effective for achieving long term objectives and creating competitive edge of the firm in the marketplace. Furthermore, policies are also executed for financial plan where corporation strictly follows the same in order to reduce cost of production. On the other hand, if variations are found in the business plan then company can effectively take initiative for the improvement. Furthermore, this overall process of functional plan makes it possible for retail sector to accomplish the specified objectives.

Mehta and Hirschheim (2007) reported that, finance function actively help to improve business performance. This way retail sector can formulate new strategies from time to time. Similarly, control environment and risk management system of retail sector also aids to manage business activities of the sector. Apart from this, finance department of company have developed deep understanding of the business by which expected barriers can be removed and path for the growth can be created for the same. For example, effectively managing function makes it possible for the sector to build good relationship with external auditors. Also, key issues related to accounting and control is also resolved successfully. It aids in developing strategy and implementing the same on right time. Similarly, company also develops successful plan for implementing  business plan. This helps to achieve the long as well as short term objectives according to the set standards.

According to Raymond and Bergeron (2008) finance activities like funding the organization's operation and project financing are effective ways to keep organization prepared for the proposed changes. However, the long term objectives are considered at the time of project financing. The objectives can be related to increasing the profitability and reducing the cost of production. In this regard, cost effective sources are considered so that management can meet organizational objectives in an effectual manner. Furthermore, proper evaluation of internal as well as external environment can be conducted in order to assess the existing resources available in organization. On other hand, no corporate strategy can take place without finance. Owing to this, finance activities plays key role in proposing or implementing the strategy. Cornelissen, (2014) asserted that, the reason behind importance of finance function is that, finance department assess risk and manages the same. At this juncture, finance department uses effective process to mitigate cause and effectiveness of different types of risks. It depicts that barriers of organization growth can be removed by performing finance activities constructively.

According to Kaplan and Norton (2006) finance activities can also be reshaped for achieving long term objectives. There are number of parties involved in the reshaping of finance activities such as; business consultants, business analysts and technical specialists. The finance function must be analytical, strategic and value added. It must be focused on enhancing the performance. Furthermore, business consultants are the group of individual who are expert in different field. They also serve as the change leader by identifying opportunities for the improvement. They also ensure that limited resources of an organization are utilized in a proper manner. The above figure is showing the effect of reshaping of finance function on different sector of the corporation. For example, strategic analysis is done with the help of set benchmark. Further, finance department consults with business analysts in order to measure the performance and then conducts the competitor’s analysis. Apart from this, technical specialists keep all the information updated. It consists of different factors such as information systems, tax and audit as well as account receivable. All these keys areas of finance help to overcome weaknesses of the firm and it also creates  strong position of sector at international as well as domestic level. It is helpful in giving upward direction to retail sector and achieve the set standard effectively.

2.5 Conclusion

According to the review of different studies which was already done, it can be concluded that finance function plays  major role in the growth and success of the firm. This helps the retail sector to expand at international level and manage all the business activities effectively. It can also be said that alignment of finance activities and corporation strategy is the foremost way to achieve short as well as long term objectives of an organization. Furthermore, finance department of company assist in determining consistent flow of production and further increases the  overall rate of return of the same. On the other hand, following diagram is showing conceptual framework of literature review which depicts that alignment of finance activities and corporate strategy is an effective mean to attain long term objectives. In addition to this, effective integration of both makes it possible for the company to reduce uncertainty and create supportive environment for the corporation. It facilitates in attaining long as well as short term objectives of the firm in an effectual manner. It proves to be effective to implement strategies of firm on right time without any kind of barriers. Furthermore, integration of finance function with corporate strategy also contributes towards sustainable growth of the sector.

CHAPTER 3: RESEARCH METHODOLOGY

3.1 Introduction

Research methodology is the important part of dissertation because it comprises of set of different tools which is used in the study. With the proper application of different tools and techniques researcher make right choices for deriving valid conclusion. This includes research type, research approach, philosophy and design which are selected in dissertation or any research. In the present study, researcher has used wide range of tools and techniques for collecting data and their proper analysis is done in order to determine alignment of finance activities and corporate strategy in achieving long term objectives of retail sector of UK. However, research aim and objectives are considered for collecting appropriate facts and figures. However, different methods and tools have been specified which are as follows-

3.2 Research type

There are two types of researches such as qualitative and quantitative. These two types of investigations are helpful in completing study in accordance with specified standards. The use of quantitative research is generally appropriate where relationship between two variables need to be identified. It requires different methods for collecting data as well as analyzing data. Similarly, quantitative research is based on objectives approach in which researcher generally focus on targeted concepts to answer research problem (Bhattacharyya, 2009). It provides clear phase regarding  expectations from research by which scholar can get results which are more close to reality. Further, qualitative approach is that where data are collected and analyzed with the help of theoretical aspect and no statistical tools are required for evaluating data. It is also effective in collecting large amount of data and proposing valid suggestions in the light of research aim and objectives (Quantitative and Qualitative Research, 2015). Qualitative research provides accurate results because it is exploratory in nature. This also enables the reader to understand research problem thoroughly. Furthermore, qualitative research is broad concept which allows the researcher provide detailed and complete description of research topic (Franklin, 2012). Thus, qualitative research is used in current study by which scholar gather appropriate data and analyzes those data by making use of appropriate techniques. Also, by using this type of research a subjective approach is adopted by researcher so as to understand the human behavior and also the rationale behind particular action of respondents.  It helps to reach at the aim of the study. It depicts that qualitative type of investigation is appropriate way to develop alternative solutions for the research issues. In addition to this, qualitative research proves to be effective to clarify research problem in a precise manner and also helps in seeking appropriate solutions for the same in an effectual manner.

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3.3 Research philosophy

Research philosophy is one of the most imperative parts of research methodology because it is totally based on assumptions, practices and values adopted by researcher in collecting large amount of data. A study or dissertation consists of number of philosophies like interpretivism, positivism and realism (Jackson, 2010). However, use of each of these philosophies is based on nature and requirement of the study. It helps in developing deep understanding about the topic under investigation so that strong data base is prepared in order to provide alternative solution for the present research problem. For the present study on identifying different ways to align function activities with corporate strategy to achieve long term objectives, interpretivism philosophy has been applied. This philosophy depicts that reality is affected by perceptions and adaptive nature of human being where knowledge cannot be separated from  them (Chapman and McNeill, 2004). It enables the scholar to understand role of human being as social actors who help to provide reliable data. This is also helpful in analyzing what is specific and unique by adopting interactive as well as participative approach with the respondents. Furthermore, this philosophy consists of generalization, abstraction and multiple interpretations. Apart from this, present study is qualitative so it is imperative to use this philosophy for in-depth discussion of research issue. In addition to this, it is assumed that researcher has some knowledge about the topic but not appropriate (Flick, 2011). Owing to this, interpretivism philosophy helps in developing in-depth knowledge regarding the topic under investigation. Thus, interpretivism research philosophy is helpful in understanding and interpreting the human behavior rather than just assessing cause and effects. Also, this assumption based philosophy proves to be effective in develop deep understanding about the topic by which alternative solutions to problem can be generated (Interpretivism (interpretivist), 2015).

3.4 Research approach

Research approach is one of the most crucial aspects in collecting data the study. Two types of research approaches are used such as deductive and inductive. However use of any of these approaches is generally based on specified research questions, testing a hypothesis and other related factors. Here, deductive approach generally begins with hypothesis and researcher move from specific to general. Furthermore, most of the times quantitative study uses deductive approach to get appropriate result. On the other hand, present study is of qualitative nature owing to this use of inductive approach is helpful. The reason behind selection of this approach is that researcher can focus on particular areas in an effectual manner. This aids in collecting relevant data and use the same for providing right answer for formulated research questions (Daniel and Sam, 2011). With this scholar can draw meaningful outcome. With the help of this research approach, scholar can explore new phenomenon. Under this approach, at first the data are collected and then pattern of the same is decided. After completion of data collection process new theory is developed by which pattern of collected data can be depicted. However, it is started with set of some observation by which researcher can develop strong base to reach aim of the study. In addition to this, inductive research approach proves to be effective to assess relationship between finance activities and corporate strategy for attaining long run objectives. Also, open minded state of research facilitates in analyzing the collected data in an appropriate manner. Apart from this, this approach is helpful for creating strong data base for the study through which it becomes possible to develop alternative solution for the research issue (Jackson, 2010).

3.5 Research design

Research design is the most important part of research methodology because it focuses on presenting the research in right manner. It helps to develop deep understanding related to topic under investigation. Descriptive, exploratory and explanatory research designs are used in the research study. Here, exploratory research is used to understand the problem more precisely and collecting data in the same direction. It is also helpful in exploring new ideas and proposing right kind of solution for the research issues. Similarly, explanatory research is used where the problem has not been defined clearly (Khan, 2011). This kind of design contributes in defining problem and selecting the data collection as well as analysis methods effectively. For the current study on identifying different ways to align finance activities with corporate strategy, descriptive research design has been used. The reason behind selecting this research design is to describe characteristics of phenomenon which is being studied. Hence this describes all the respondents who are taking part in the study so as to develop meaningful outcome from collected data. Furthermore, descriptive research develops deep understanding about the research problem and also helps the scholar to provide right answer from formulated research questions. However, one time interaction is ensured with people who take part in the study. Furthermore, this research design also assesses the role of finance function in achieving long term objectives (Kumar, 2010). Therefore, descriptive research design contributes towards building pool of valid data and provides suggestions for growth and development of retail sector of UK. In addition to this, descriptive research design determine the  relationship between things which exist in the world so that results which are close to reality can be achieved. This in turn data are presented in right manner which clarified queries of readers.

3.6 Sampling

Sampling is the individual unit which represents overall population  which is being studied. It is not always possible to collect data from large population because researcher cannot approach high volume people for collected the data. In this regard, small unit is selected from population which presents views of all respondents effectively. Different types of sampling methods are used which are bifurcated into two segment such as probability sampling and non-probability sampling. Probability sampling is that where all respondents or people from selected field have the chance to get selected in the study (Fiegen, 2010). On the other hand, non-probability sampling is that where people do not have equal chances to get selected in the study instead they are selected to fulfill the purpose of the research. It depicts that present study is also based on non-probability sampling as not all people have idea about the topic. Owing to this, all finance employees of selected corporation Tesco, Morrison’s, Asda and Waitrose as well as Sainsbury are considered. Further, two finance employees from each organization are selected for providing in-depth knowledge about alignment of finance activities with corporate strategy for attaining long term objectives. Hence total 10 respondents have been selected.  These respondents are selected as per the purposive sampling where purpose of research is already communicated to them (Purposive sampling, 2015). It facilitates in deriving relevant data in less time and fulfills the purpose of the study in an effectual manner. By using this sampling method, it becomes possible for the researcher to reach at the aim of the dissertation and develop fruitful outcome in the same direction. Furthermore, in this sampling method people who cannot provide information about the topic under investigation are generally excluded so as to save time as well as cost. Thus, selection of experienced finance employees has been ensured so that pool of information is created for fulfilling research objectives of the study.

3.7 Data collection methods

Data collection process serves as the backbone of dissertation because without collecting data end results cannot be produced. There are two types of data collected such as primary and secondary. Here, primary data are collected at the first hand by accessing fresh sources. On the other hand, secondary data are collected by accessing already collected data (Crowther and Lancaster, 2012). However primary data collection process relatively takes much time as well as cost whereas secondary data does not consume more cost as well as time. This is because secondary data are processed and collected in accordance with purpose of the study and same are applied to produce valid outcome. For the present study in identifying different ways through which finance activities can be aligned with corporate strategy, both primary and secondary data have been collected. For collecting primary data, questionnaire has been used which consists of close ended questions. Here, prepared questionnaire is rotated among respondents so that they can provide right answer according to the same. This way large amount of information can be gathered in direction of aim and objectives of the study (Saunders, 2003). The most important fact is that questions are formulated on the basis of aim and objectives of the study. Apart from this, all questions are prepared in simple language where respondents easily understand and respond for the same. It further provides different alternative solutions for the topic under investigation. Furthermore, different sources like journals, books and published material have been accessed for collecting secondary data. Apart from this, recent articles can also be referred for data collection.  Not only this, online material has also been accessed at the time of data collection. All these information facilitates in producing end results.

3.8 Data analysis

The data analysis part is the main part which analyzes all the collected data in the light of research aim and objectives of the study. It takes place immediate after completing data collection. There are two methods for analyzing the collected data such as quantitative and qualitative. However, present investigation is of qualitative type so qualitative data analysis techniques have been used. By using this technique thematic analysis is used in which  themes of each questions have been prepared. Along with that, frequency table of all data has also been prepared so that analysis can be done in accordance with responses given by all of the respondents. Furthermore, each themes show the pattern of observed data so as to produce end results effectually  (Whiteley and Whiteley, 2006). On the other hand, the reason behind not selecting quantitative techniques is the use of statistical methods. However, these methods are not required in the present study instead generalization and detail explanation of responses is required. It can only be possible through thematic analysis. Owing to this, thematic analysis has been selected to derive valid conclusion from the collected data. In addition to this, quantitative methods are used in quantitative type of investigation of the study. It facilitates in developing deep understanding with regards to alignment of finance activities with corporate strategy for achieving long term objectives (Ihantola and Kihn, 2011). It can also be said that thematic analysis is effective means to analyze the data gathered via different methods. Apart from this, qualitative data analysis technique analyzes the collected data in an effectual manner so that accordingly suggestions can also be given to improve performance of retail sector of UK.

3.9 Ethical consideration

Ethical aspect plays significant role in conducting study effectively. In this regard, some of the points need to be considered very so that overall dissertation can be completed in an ethical manner. Owing to this, dissertation must follow below mentioned ethical consideration and complete the same in an effectual manner. Some of the ethical considerations have been specified as follows-

The present study on identification of different ways through which finance activities can be aligned with corporate strategy consists of secondary information also where scholar access different secondary sources. At this juncture, some of the sites were restricted to use. At this point of time, prior information has been taken for the same so that all the important information can be incorporated in the study (Johnson and Christensen, 2010).

In collecting secondary data information has been taken from several sites. However, all collected data are incorporated with proper modification and citation. For example, work done by others has been properly cited to protect their rights.

The research aim has been fulfilled by incorporating sufficient amount of information and also justifying the same in the ground of retail sector of UK. This proves to be effective to present findings of study effectively and also developing fruitful suggestions in the same direction (Franklin, 2012).

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