How would you characterise business environment? Explain, with examples, the difference between general and specific environment.

Business environment refers to all the external forces such as economic, social, political, technological or legal that affects the performance of a business organisation. In other words, everything that is outside the purview of an organisation but affects its performance composes business environment.

Business environment has the following characteristics.

i. Aggregate of External Forces: Business environment is the total of all the external forces such as individuals, consumers, government, legal matters that affect the performance of an organisation either positively or negatively. 

ii. Interrelation: Different forces of business environment are closely related to each other. For example, an increase in the income of the consumers increases the demand for consumer durables such as television, refrigerator, etc.

iii. Ever Changing: Business environment is dynamic and ever changing in nature. For example, consumer tastes and preferences, technology, government rules and policies keep changing continuously. 

iv. Uncertainty: Business environment is uncertain. Changes in different forces of the environment cannot be predicted easily. In addition, dynamism of the forces makes it even more uncertain. 

v. Complex: Business environment is the aggregate of different interrelated and dynamic forces. Thus, it becomes difficult and complex to understand. For example, all political, social, economic, technological and legal matters affect the performance of organisation simultaneously. While, it may be easy to understand the individual affect of these forces, their cumulative effect is quite difficult to understand. 

vi. Relative: Business environment is relative in nature. It differs from region to region. For example, political conditions, religious beliefs, government rules and policies differ from one region to another. 

Specific Environment and General Environment

Specific environment refers to those external forces that affect an organisation directly. That is, they are the forces that are specific to a particular organisation or a company. For example, a change in tastes and preferences of consumers towards the products of a company, directly affects its demand. Similarly, a delay in the supply of raw material from the suppliers directly affects the production of a company. 

On the other hand, general environment refers to those external forces that affect all the organisations. As against specific forces, general forces do not pertain to a particular organisation, rather they affect the performance of all the organisations. Thus, such forces affect a particular organisation only indirectly. For example, a change in technology affects the quantity and quality of production of all the organisations. Similarly, a change in political conditions affects all companies simultaneously. 

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