Academic journal article Planning for Higher Education

Strategic Planning at Two Levels: Contrasting Strategic Planning Processes at Qatar University (Public) and Lebanese American University (Private)

Academic journal article Planning for Higher Education

Strategic Planning at Two Levels: Contrasting Strategic Planning Processes at Qatar University (Public) and Lebanese American University (Private)

Article excerpt


A remarkable expansion has occurred in the higher education sector in the Middle East and North Africa, especially over the past three decades. In 1940, only 10 universities operated in the region; by 2000, the number had reached 140 and, as of 2007, the figure was 260. Approximately two-thirds of these institutions emerged after the 1980s (Mazawi 2004). The greatest expansion occurred in the Gulf countries. Since 2003, 100 universities were established in Saudi Arabia (Krieger 2007b). Over the same period, 40 universities were opened in Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, including world-renowned Western universities or branches of these universities, mainly from the United States (Krieger 2007a; Romani 2009). In Qatar, for example, Virginia Commonwealth University opened a campus in 1998, as did Weill Cornell Medical College in 2001 and Carnegie Mellon University in 2004. The United Arab Emirates became home to campuses of the University of Wollongong in 1993, the Sorbonne in 2006, the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners in 2008, and New York University in 2010.

In many countries in the region, the expansion of the higher education system is occurring in the wider context of the privatization and internationalization of higher education both to improve it (Romani 2009) and to accommodate improved access, particularly for females (Roudi-Fahimi and Moghadam 2003). In the face of changing economic and global markets and greater competition due to the increase in the number of higher education providers, many institutions in the region have developed strategic plans to direct their progression, ensure their sustainability, and manage their organizational challenges. The study presented in this article looks at the strategic plans developed by two institutions in the region, the techniques used in their development, and the challenges encountered during the implementation of each plan.

Review of Literature

Strategic planning is defined as a "process of developing and maintaining a strategic fit between the organization and its changing marketing opportunities" (Kotler and Murphy 1981, p. 471). It is a means by which the most effective organizations establish priorities and goals and coordinate their efforts to anticipate, direct, and manage change fundamental to organizational challenges (Luxton 2005; Tromp and Ruben 2004). Strategic planning enables the advancement of an organization's vision and mission through goals, priorities, and objectives that translate into initiatives aligned with outcomes, with strategic resource allocation and commitments to assessment, accountability reporting, and planning driving the budget (DuPont-Morales and Harris 1994). Although the process varies according to the specific needs of an institution or academic unit, a successful model of strategic planning is composed of five common elements that apply across all institutional levels of planning, including national planning. These five elements are (1) vision, mission, and values; (2) environmental analysis or SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats); (3) goals; (4) action planning; and (5) accountability. The vision, mission, and values of an institution are interrelated, and they are important because they help in informing the environmental analysis, setting goals, and developing action plans and accountability systems.

Vision is a statement of what the organization wants to become, its future aspirations (Ruben 2003); mission is the basic purpose of an organization, what it is trying to accomplish (Kotler and Murphy 1981); and values outline the ideals and behaviors deemed important by the organization. Collectively, the organization's vision, mission, and values provide statements of principles that guide decision making and the development and implementation of plans.

An important component of strategic planning is environmental analysis. …

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