The Link among Strategic Planning, Curriculum Management, and Assurance of Learning: One School's Experiences

By Goette, Tanya; Woodard, Howard et al. | Communications of the IIMA, April 2008 | Go to article overview

The Link among Strategic Planning, Curriculum Management, and Assurance of Learning: One School's Experiences


Goette, Tanya, Woodard, Howard, Young, Dale, Communications of the IIMA


ABSTRACT

Schools need effective processes to make certain there is a clear linkage among strategic plans, execution of the goals and objectives related to strategy, and the assurance of learning activities that demonstrate accomplishment of the plan. This paper describes the experiences and learning of one business school over a four-year period in establishing a clear linkage among strategy, execution, and measurement. Key components of success include credibility and trust between faculty and administration and a commitment by faculty members toward continuous improvement.

INTRODUCTION

Strategic planning is a critical activity for business schools. It allows schools to allocate rationally scarce resources, such as faculty development funding, and to make careful decisions about prioritizing and moving funds between various programs. A carefully crafted strategy should enable a business school to recognize and respond to changes that are constantly occurring in its market place. For example, many programs are considering, and/or are competing with, electronic degree offerings.

Planning produces a list of goals and objectives. Schools measure progress in reaching their objectives through various assurance of learning activities. For example, The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) Standard 16 (AACSB, 2007) requires schools to create and demonstrate achievement of learning goals for their undergraduate programs. Schools often accomplish these types of curriculum development and curriculum management activities through a curriculum committee staffed by faculty members. Schools have well-established processes for managing curriculum and benefit when there is a direct link between strategy and execution (in this example, execution of curriculum goals).

This paper reports on one school's experiences over the past four years in strategic planning, carrying out the plan through various committees, and measuring what was accomplished during the process through various assessment activities. During that same period, the school was successful in achieving reaffirmation of accreditation from AACSB. The paper closes with a short list of "what we have learned" regarding shared governance.

PRIOR RESEARCH

As Sir William Osler (1849-1919), Regius Professor of Medicine at Oxford, once observed, "When schemes are laid in advance, it is surprising how often the circumstances fit in with them."(Osler, 1904, p. 144) When striving to accomplish a mission, planning becomes important to an organization (Boone & Kurtz, 1992). Merriam-Webster (2008) defines planning as "the act or process of making or carrying out plans, specifically, the establishment of goals, policies, and procedures for a social or economic unit" (planning, para.1). The dictionary defined a plan as "a method for achieving an end" (plan, para. 2). Plans are the expected development of the planning process (Boone & Kurtz). Planning might not guarantee success in accomplishing organizational goals and objectives; but it is rare for an organization to succeed solely by luck or circumstance (Boone & Kurtz). Boone & Kurtz suggested that the planning process causes managers to concentrate on the goals and objectives of the organization.

Boone & Kurtz (1992) suggests that an organization should have goals and objectives, as well as a detailed guideline on how to achieve the goals and objectives. The logical questions, which arise at this point, are (a) where will goals and objectives lead an organization?; (b) what will happen to the organization if it is successful in achieving its goals and objectives? Kaufman, Herman, & Watters (1996) stated that "the past is prologue to the future and planning is an attempt to make positive change and create--even invent--a new tomorrow" (p. 83). Planning must tackle the future; it is the roadmap for achieving the organization's vision. …

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