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The social and cultural environment - introduction

Businesses affect the societies in which they operate and are, in turn, affected by social and cultural change in those societies. In this section we look at both these areas. Social change may affect businesses through many aspects of their activity. These may include:

  • Human resources - expectations within society about patterns of employment and working conditions will affect the firm's organisation. Increasingly, trends towards home working, more flexible employment patterns and a portfolio approach to a career are influencing firms and the way they operate. Social change impacts on firms in different ways, but all businesses would be wise to plan for change.
  • Marketing - firms need to ensure that their product portfolios reflect the pattern of demand in society. Changes in society lead to changes in the pattern of demand and firms need to be aware of changes taking place in their market. Market research will be an important element of judging the significance of trends and changing consumer purchasing behaviour.
  • Production - with the growth in multinational enterprises, production has become increasingly globalised and ready to shift anywhere. However, firms are also under increasing pressure to ensure that their production does not impact negatively on the countries and societies where they operate.