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From Strategic Planning to Strategic Action in Higher Education Institutions

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karen oljemark

on 8 August 2014

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Transcript of From Strategic Planning to Strategic Action in Higher Education Institutions

SETTING:
An English CEGEP in Quebec located on the Island of Montreal
6,000 students enrolled each year in 60% inpre-university and 40% in technical programs; primarily English-speaking but with a growing proportion of francophones and allophones (40%); all socio-economic categories represented.
800 + staff and faculty
A Board of Governors that guides program and policy development for the CEGEP
A team of senior administrators who directs the CEGEP, supervising a team of middle managers
A team of middle managers who carry out these directives, by managing two distinct groups:
a) Program/department coordinators who facilitate the teams of faculty who deliver the programs and courses and
b) Support staff team managers who manage the teams of suppport staff who deliver the services to the students
The faculty and support staff who deliver the courses and services to the students
RESEARCH QUESTIONS
PURPOSE OF THE STUDY
STUDY DESIGN
STRATEGIC THINKING
STRATEGIC PLANNING
STRATEGIC ACTION
From Strategic Planning to
STRATEGIC ACTION
in Higher Education Institutions

STRATEGIC RESULTS!
WHAT IS THE MAIN PROBLEM?
Review of the Literature: the use of SP in Higher Education is not as effective as it could be.
Main Challenge: how to move the plan from the declared shared vision/goals of the SP to focused day-to-day action toward these shared goals by all members of the community.
Main Barrier: a major divide in the work culture.
Business Model: Senior Managers drive the process. Operational Managers bring the process to the teams of employees. All work together to implement the process.
Business Model Applied to Higher Education: Not so effective because there is a major difference between Management and Academics in terms of their work culture. These two groups carry out their work ... reflect, collaborate, make decisions, take action ... in very different ways. and if this is not taken into account the process gets watered down.
Higher Education Model: SP needs to be approached differently in these organizations because they differ significantly from the business world in the way that they function.
AIM OF THE STUDY:
provide a better understanding of how the Strategic Planning (SP) process happens in a Canadian Higher Education institution, from the point of view of its leaders;
have them identify problems with or barriers to the SP process of this one institution, and
suggest practical ways to overcome these problems and improve the process for the institution for the future, and
with these findings, contribute to the body of academic research on improving SP in Higher Education institutions.
INITIAL NARRATIVE QUESTIONS:
a) What are the main challenges identified from the responses of each group?
b) What are the practical solutions that each group suggest?
c) What are the similarities/differences between the responses of each group?
d) In summary, what are the main recommendations identified by these groups to the institution on how to improve its SP process?
e) How do these concerns and recommendations compare to best practices from the research literature in this area?
f) What are some recommendations for further study of the issue?
PARTICIPANTS:
GROUP A: DELIBERATE STRATEGY MOVERS (Directors and Deans of the College)
1 Focus Group of the Directors (Senior Operational Administrators) - 75 to 90 minutes / 5 to 7 participants
1 Focus Group of the Deans (Academic Administrators) - 75 to 90 minutes / 5 to 7 participants
Individual Follow-Up Interviews - 30 to 45 minutes / 2 to 3 participants selected from the above focus groups
GROUP B: EMERGENT STRATEGY MOVERS (Chairs and Coordinators of the Departments and Programs)
2 Focus Groups of a Select Number of Chairs and Coordinators - 75 to 90 minutes / 5 to 7 participants per group
Individual Follow-Up Interviews - 30 to 45 minutes / 2 to 3 participants selected from the above focus groups
ETHICAL CONSIDERATIONS:
Ethical considerations will be addressed through the use of:
introductory information letters and participant informed consent forms tailored to each of the data collection methods
Participant informed consent forms include statements of the study intent and design, scope of participant involvement, potential risk to participants, privacy assurances, intent to share findings with participants, future use of data and findings from the study, voluntary participation, and freedom to withdraw.
clearance of all phases and instruments of the study through the McGill University and the CEGEP Research Ethics Board
DATA COLLECTION METHODS:
A qualitative research design will be used for this study. All instruments will go through a phase of pilot testing to refine the questions and approach.
1. A Review of the Relevant Research Literature: To help generate SP best-practice recommendations from higher education institutions around the world for comparison purposes.
2. Focus Groups: To gather insight into the views of the three main groups of leaders in charge of the SP process of the CEGEP with regard to the research questions.
3. Individual Follow-Up Interviews: To gain further insight or clarification as needed of the views expressed by certain individuals in the focus groups.
VALIDITY: The main validity threats to this study include:
researcher bias: declaration of personal biases, assumptions, values and beliefs and their effects on the research data as well as interpretation of that data; declaration of dual role as researcher and participant of the SP process at the CEGEP; coding of transcripts to differentiate participant from researcher statements, member checks as needed; peer and supervisor review of analysis and interpretations of data.
limitations of the study: declaration of any limitations, in particular the fact that study does not consider the views of all key stakeholders in the SP process ... access was limited by senior management of the CEGEP;
researcher reactivity: use of open-ended questions, questions generated by the participants, audio recording of the sessions to facilitate member checks and peer/supervisor reviews, careful selection of focus group members and settings to ensure anonymity and address power structure issues.
single validity threat: I will use multiple sources of data collection (see above).
discrepant data: identify and declare discrepant data.
the risk of generalisability: when making my final recommendations and conclusions from this study, make it clear that one of the limitations of a single-case study is that one cannot necessarily declare that these recommendations cannot necessarily by universally applied to other settings.
IMPLICATIONS OF THIS STUDY:

I hope this research study will help provide concrete and practical ways for Higher Education institutions to make better use of Strategic Planning as a means of their key stakeholders to work together more effectively toward shared goals, to help them become more effective in serving the needs of their students.

Why? This is my way to make a difference by making a contribution to research into ways to improve education for students.

Thank you for your participation. Your feedback is most welcome!

karen.oljemark@johnabbott.qc.ca
INITIAL RESEARCH QUESTIONS:
Ask focus groups of 3 distinct groups of leaders (senior administrators, middle managers, and academic program/department managers) in a Canadian Higher Education institution the following questions:
1. What are the leaders' views about how the Strategic Planning process happens in their organization?
2. How do these leaders perceive their role in this process?
3. How could this process happen more effectively?
4. What are some concrete, practical suggestions how they think they could help make this process happen more effectively?
WHY STUDY THIS TOPIC?
Fierce Competition for World Resources: Increased demand for all resources due to spiraling world population.
Higher Education institutions are no different. SP has the potential to be a powerful tool. But a more effective SP approach is in order to help these institutions get the resources they need to remain effective and competitive., and then get the job done more efficiently with whatever resources they secure.
More Research Needed: Hear the problems and propose solutions from the voices of the key stakeholders who are living this reality in these institutions. What solutions do they see to improve this all-important process in their institution? What are some concrete ways they feel they can help make this improvement happen?
I want to MAKE A DIFFERENCE: by doing something concrete and useful through my research to help improve the educational experience of students in my College and at other Higher Education institutions.
CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK
Educational Leadership:
Educational Leadership: the sphere of action and research around institutional improvement and the preparation of leaders to support that process of improvement.
Exploratory Questions: What are some concrete ways this body of research has to suggest to help Higher Education institutions enhance their leaders’ ability to steer a more effective strategic planning process? Some of the approaches from the research that will be examined for further insight include communities of practice, building ownership, organizational change and situated learning.
Research Literature: Shanaghan (2009), Wenger (1999), Stoll and Seashore (2007), Gajda and Koliba (2007), Agranoff (2008), St. Onge and Wallace (2012), Bryson & Anderson (2000), Ehlers and Schneckenberg (Eds.) (2010), Kimble & Hildreth (2005), organizational change: Berry (2007), Boyce (2003), Birnboaum and Edelson (1989), Tierney (1988), Kezar and Eckel (2002), and situated learning: (Lave & Wenger (1991), Bryson (2010), Holste (2010).
Education Policy and Education Policy Analysis:
Education Policy: the set of principles and government policy-making as applied to the sphere of education.
Education Policy Analysis: looks for answers to questions about the purpose of education, the objectives that it is designed to attain, the methods for attaining them and the tools used to measure their success.
Exploratory Questions: Much research has been conducted in this area of research to inform education policymakers and practitioners on how to make more effective use of the Strategic Planning process in Higher Education institutions. How well does this process translate from the business world to the sphere of Higher Education? What are the best practices that emerge from this body of research? What works? What doesn’t? What are some of the tools used to measure these institutions’ success at reaching their goals?
Research Literature: Bryson (2009, 2010, 2011), Keller (1983), Dennison (1995), Rowley et al (1997, 2001), Wilbon (2012), Olivarius et al (2010), Locke, Cummings and Fisher (2011), Ferlie, Musselin and Andresani (2008), Canadian Council on Learning (2009), OECD 2003 and 2004, Bryson and Anderson (2000), Cruikshank(2003), Becket and Brookes (2008).
Strategic Planning: a Historical Perspective
Strategic Planning: an organization’s process of defining or redefining its direction, then making decisions, allocating its resources, and taking action to pursue its strategy. It has evolved from its application in organizations engaged in the production of goods and services for profit to its adaptation by a wide range of different organizational types, including Higher Education institutions, with mixed results.
Exploratory Questions: What are some of the main schools of thought, models and recommendations that emerge from the research literature on effective strategic planning in the business world? What insights does this research provide into the effective implementation of this process in Higher Education institutions?
Research Literature: Porter (1985), Mintzberg (1985, 1994, 1998, 2010), Primozic, Primozic and Libin (1991) Jarzabkowski, Paula and A. Paul Spee (2009), 2011), Steiner (2010), Thompson, Strickland and Gamble (2013).
Mintzberg`s Strategic Planning Model of Deliberate vs. Emergent Strategy
What is it? A school of thought from the business research which shows promise and thus will be used to help frame this research project is Mintzberg’s model of Deliberate vs. Emergent Strategy. In his model, Mintzberg argues there are two distinct groupings that drive the strategic planning process, the Deliberate Strategy Movers (the more structured, deliberate process steered by the senior managers in charge of the development of the overall vision/plan) and the Emergent Strategy Movers (the more informal, messy, spontaneous, day-to-day detailed process engaged in by the operational managers and the teams of people they supervise). According to Mintzberg, these two processes must necessarily complement each other for the strategic planning process to be effective. As well, he recommends principles to follow in order to foster this complementarity.
Research Literature: It is also of interest that Porter (1985) identifies a similar model which he calls Horizontal Strategic Planning, while Primozic, Primozic and Libin (1991) names their take on it Vertical vs. Horizontal Strategic Planning. If you proceed to the Study Design section of this Prezi, you will see how my research approach has been inspired by this model.
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