1. Major external and uncontrollable factors that influence an organization's decision making, and affect its performance and strategies. These factors include the economic, demographics, legal, political, and social conditions, technological changes, and natural forces. 2. Factors that influence a company's or product's development but that are outside of the company's control. For example, the macro environment could include competitors, changes in interest rates, changes in cultural tastes, or government regulations. An organization's macroenvironment consists of nonspecific aspects in the organization's surroundings that have the potential to affect the organization's strategies. When compared to a firm's task environment, the impact of macroenvironmental variables is less direct and the organization has a more limited impact on these elements of the environment. Macroenvironmental variables include sociocultural, technological, political-legal, economic, and international variables. A firm considers these variables as part of its environmental scanning to better understand the threats and opportunities created by the variables and how strategic plans need to be adjusted so the firm can obtain and retain competitive advantage. The macroenvironment consists of forces that originate outside of an organization and generally cannot be altered by actions of the organization. In other words, a firm may be influenced by changes within this element of its environment, but cannot itself influence the environment. The curved lines in Figure 1 indicate the indirect influence of the environment on the organization. SOCIOCULTURAL FACTORS
The sociocultural dimensions of the environment consist of customs, lifestyles, and values that characterize the society in which the firm operates. Socio-cultural components of the environment influence the ability of the firm to obtain resources, make its goods and services, and function within the society. Sociocultural factors include anything within the context of society that has the potential to affect an organization. Population demographics, rising educational levels, norms and values, and attitudes toward social responsibility are examples of sociocultural variables. POPULATION CHANGES.
Changes in population demographics have many potential consequences for organizations. As the total population changes, the demand for products and services also changes. For instance, the decline in the birthrate and improvement in health care have contributed to an increase in the average age of the population in the United States. Many firms that traditionally marketed their products toward youth are developing product lines that appeal to an older market. Clothing from Levi Strauss & Co. was traditionally popular among young adults. While its popularity in this market has waned, the firm has been able to develop a strong following in the adult market with its Dockers label. Other firms are developing strategies that will allow them to capitalize on the aging population. Firms in the health-care industry and firms providing funeral services are expected to do well given the increasing age of the U.S. population. They are projected as a growth segment of U.S. industry simply because of the population demographics. RISING EDUCATIONAL LEVELS.
Rising educational levels also have an impact on organizations. Higher educational levels allow people to earn higher incomes than would have been possible otherwise. The increase in income has created opportunities to purchase additional goods and services, and to raise the overall standard of living of a large segment of the population. The educational level has also led to increased expectations of workers, and has increased job mobility. Workers are less accepting of undesirable working conditions than were workers a generation ago. Better working conditions, stable employment, and opportunities for training and development are a few...