Academic journal article Planning for Higher Education

Dueling Scorecards: How Two Colleges Utilize the Popular Planning Method: Learn from This In-Depth Comparison of the "Balanced Scorecards" Implemented by Two Small Institutions

Academic journal article Planning for Higher Education

Dueling Scorecards: How Two Colleges Utilize the Popular Planning Method: Learn from This In-Depth Comparison of the "Balanced Scorecards" Implemented by Two Small Institutions

Article excerpt


Colleges and universities across the country use a variety of methods for assessing their progress toward short- and long-term institutional goals. There are as many methods of strategic planning and assessment as there are institutions. Many of these methods, however, leave the institution to overcome significant challenges, in part because they tend to focus on a particular voice or perspective to the exclusion of other critical areas. For example, many business planning models make the financial perspective the single lens through which the process is viewed. Higher education, in contrast, has traditionally focused on academic issues as a means to gauge quality (Doerfel and Ruben 2002). In addition, these methods often fail to recognize the interaction among strategic objectives. The result is a myopic view of the institution that prevents trustees, presidents, and other leaders from making the best management decisions.

The Balanced Scorecard, first introduced in the Harvard Business Reviewby Robert Kaplan and David Norton (1992), attempts to address these challenges. Although this model is widely used in business, it has not been widely embraced in higher education (Karathanos and Karathanos 2005). The Balanced Scorecard can be adapted to provide a comprehensive view of a higher education institution and measure its progress toward meeting short- and long-term goals (Chang and Chow 1999). This becomes even more important as institutions face increased scrutiny from accrediting bodies, legislators, and other stakeholders interested in accountability in higher education (Stewart and Carpenter-Hubin 2001). The purpose of this article is to describe how two higher education institutions, Jefferson College of Health Sciences (Jefferson) and Rhodes College (Rhodes), use the Balanced Scorecard model as a core component of their planning processes.

Jefferson and Rhodes are interesting institutions to consider in evaluating the application of the Balanced Scorecard to higher education. Both are regionally-accredited, private colleges with enrollments under 2,000 students. Previous literature on adaptations of the Balanced Scorecard in higher education has typically concerned mid-sized comprehensive universities like University of Wisconsin-Stout or very large state institutions such as Rutgers University and the Ohio State University (Karathanos and Karathanos 2005; Ruben 1999; Stewart and Carpenter-Hubin 2001). In addition, unlike most higher education institutions that have adapted the Balanced Scorecard, Jefferson and Rhodes chose to retain the original four perspectives developed by Kaplan and Norton. However, the two colleges differ sufficiently in their institutional characteristics, their planning processes, and the development of their scorecards to showcase the flexibility inherent in the Balanced Scorecard model.

Institutional Descriptions

Jefferson College of Health Sciences, in Roanoke, Virginia, is a small, private college specializing in allied health education. The college annually enrolls 1,000 students in 15 disciplines. Degrees are offered from the associate's level to the master's level in areas including nursing, physician assistant, and occupational therapy. Most of the college's students are female (80 percent), most enroll with some form of transfer credit (80 percent), and many continue to work while enrolled. The college is an affiliate of Carilion Clinic, the largest health system and employer in southwest Virginia. Jefferson is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, and most disciplines are accredited by individual professional organizations. Currently, the college's planning process is overseen by the dean for enrollment management and planning, with assistance from the institutional research manager. In addition, the college uses various committees to provide input into the planning process and make recommendations for the review of material. …

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