1.1       Background of the Study

Vision was mostly a concept of researchers who studied political leadership and the leadership of social or religious movements before the 1980s (Kantabutra, 2008a:128).  It was rarely considered within the leadership and corporate literature.  Only in the past couple of decades has vision been extensively discussed in the corporate sector. In this context, the use of vision has been widely exhorted as one of the main characteristics of effective leaders and organization (Bryman, 1992:31-45; Humphreys, 2004:96: Conger&Kanungo, 1987:637-647). Some theorists believe that vision reflects the company’s image of some future state, which will be the ideal achievement of the organization.  Organization sets this as its vision for example, to be a world -class manufacturing organization, a pace setter in the industry or a business leader.  Having a vision means having knowledge of where to go and a greater control over the future.  If an organization does not control its destiny, other outside forces will decide that for it (Mohtsham, 2004:247-249).  Not only is vision an idea or image of a desirable future, but the right vision can also actually jump-start the future of the organization by mobilizing people into action toward achieving it (Nanus, 1992:44).

Effective vision provides a word picture of what the organization wants to become eventually which may be five, ten or fifteen years in the future.  This statement is not only an abstract but it contains a concrete image of the desired state and provides also foundations for future strategies and objectives.  All organizations face problems in their lives but a well thought out vision together with effective operations, gets the organization out of these troubles (Tregoe, Zimmerman, Smith, Tobia, 1989:249).  Thus vision is like the headlights of a vehicle on a road at night which shows the way to the destination on a dark path avoiding any accidents and carefully leaving behind the other cars on the road.

Satisfying three essential conditions are the prerequisites for Corporate Visioning to serve its function, of setting an organizational development agenda and laying the foundations for more detailed strategy work. First, it must be comprehensive, touching all aspects of the business. An incomplete vision is likely to result in problems going on recognized or unchallenged. Second, it must be inclusive, reaching both inside and outside the organization, engaging the agendas of all key stakeholders. A vision invariably is a call for action, and all those involved in creating a better future need to know what is expected of them. Third, a vision must establish a dynamic, a trajectory for change. This in effect requires two visions: a static vision of the enterprise (where it is now and will remain if nothing is done), and a dynamic vision that captures what the enterprise might become if the right moves are made (Finkelsein et al., 2008:505-538).

Overall, research has demonstrated significant contributions of visions to organizational effectiveness (Zaccaro, 2001:367-380). Lack of vision also appears to be associated with failed attempts to manage organizational change (Collis and Porras, 1994:87; Lucey, Bateman and Hines, 2005:9-13) and attention to vision was found to be a key strategy employed by 90 leaders who enlisted others in a common vision (Bennis and Nanus, 1985:44).  Visions offer a value based direction for the organization and provide a rationale for strategic decision-making.  While most of the previous research into vision was conducted at the individual level, as opposed to the level of the business-unit or organizational-level, vision has been studied as a blend of charismatic leadership in a wide variety of samples and industries, with generally positive finding between this kind of leadership and followers’ performance, attitudes and perceptions.

Thus, the concept of corporate visioning according to Bennis and Nanus (1985:102-105) “is a mental image of a possible and desirable future state of the organization … (which) articulates a view of a realistic, credible, attractive future for the organization, a condition that is better in some important ways than what now exists.”  Corporate visioning has direct bearing with the situation been experienced by the Nigerian Textile Industry.   For instance, Lipton (1996:83-91) asserts that “a clearly articulated vision, fully implemented across an organization, infact makes a profoundly positive difference.”  Similarly, Gladwell (2000:2) in supporting this position, notes that guided by visionary leadership, transformation can gather momentum until it reaches a “tipping point” where it will spread like epidemic throughout the many intertwined systems and dramatically alter how organizations and systems operate.  Furthermore, Roberts (1983:5-16) states that all successful transformations are vision led.  However, transformation is defined as “the radical shift from one state of being to another, where the new state is uncertain until it emerges and is better able to meet the more sophisticated demand of the environment than the old ‘tried and true’ state” (Ackerman Anderson and Marquardt, 1997:16).  Hence the Nigerian textile industry is facing a tremendous environmental demand.

As a matter of fact, the issue of Corporate Visioning in the Nigerian textile industry has raised great concern in the face of myriad of problems within the industry.  The industry is faced with very low sales as Oshiomhole (2002:2) rightly observes that there are more smuggled textile materials in the Nigerian markets across the country like Lagos, Kano, Aba and Abuja than the locally made ones.  Further to importation of textiles in mass quantities at prices cheaper than local production, many units went into bankruptcy followed by retrenchment of labour force in large numbers.

Olanrewaju (2002:2) by implication does not believe that the industry paid attention to corporate visioning by asserting that investors in the textile industry failed to re-tool and re-equip their operations, failed to stream-lined their cost of production, cannot compete price wise, with imported / smuggled fabrics.  Further the public perception is that “the quality of their fabrics is lower than the foreign made ones, operate in a seller market, hence they do not market and improve on their products”. Olari (2007:2) lends support in observing that increased global competition as a result of Nigeria’s signing the World Trade Organization (WTO) agreement in 1995, the incidences of globalization have all created poor market situations and eroding employment capabilities and further reducing the capacity utilization.  The consequence of this is well known and this calls for immediate attention.  Without the industry coming into terms with corporate visioning, as a strategy for organizational transformation the livelihood of over one point seven million (1,750,000) cotton growers (Walid, 2008:2), retrenched workers and their dependants, all thrown into the already saturated labour markets.  The attendant incidences are already visible; armed robbery has been on increase; motor cycle riders popularly called ‘okada’ are all over the place.  According to Road Safety Report, about 85% of road accidents in Kaduna are caused by okada riders.  The death-toll among the retrenched workers and their dependants are also in the increase according to National Union of Textile Garment and Tailoring Workers of Nigeria (NUTGTWN) report (2008:9).

All over the globe it seems that the textile industry is facing one problem or the other. In Uganda, Jobanputra (2008:2) having identified the problems confronting the textile industry, asserts that in this era of stiff competition, no company can survive without corporate vision.  Consequently, the company’s vision has been to contribute to Uganda’s economic transformation through value addition to cotton.  The All-Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA) (2008:1) states that due to challenges facing the textile industry, a huge transformation process needs to be initiated at all levels of the industry.  Ebrahim (2008:1) is of the view that “with the globalization process, severe crises has begun to take place and one of the main causes is emergence of new low-cost textile producers who are benefiting with their country’s low-cost structure and opening of global markets.  This however, calls for the introduction of latest technology in the industry so as to reposition their firms to gain competitive advantage. The fiber/textile /apparel (FTA) industry is one of American’s largest manufacturing industries and its success is critical to the economic well-being of the country.  However, though it was once the world’s unchallenged leader, the industry has faltered in recent years, and it is in danger of slipping further (Moncarz, 1993:13).  Thereby, advocating for information technology vision for the United States Fiber/Textile/apparel industry.  Similarity, the European Apparel and Textile organization proposed a vision for 2020.  This vision is built around the concept of dynamic, innovative, multi disciplinary knowledge – based, flexibly integrated and customer oriented networks of businesses.  This will enable them move from today’s situation toward this long term vision in a strategically coordinated way.