Academic journal article Library Philosophy and Practice

The Strategic Management Practices in Academic Libraries in Kenya: The Case of USIU Library

Academic journal article Library Philosophy and Practice

The Strategic Management Practices in Academic Libraries in Kenya: The Case of USIU Library

Article excerpt

Introduction

Advances in telecommunications, new techniques in information and knowledge management have facilitated the rapid transformation of data, information and knowledge into digital form, while leaps in fiber optical communication, wireless technology and software development have aided the provision of powerful new methods of information (Lawrence & Averil, 2002). This scenario has forced many organizations to re-examine their strategies in the last decade (Abraham and Leavy, 2007), and libraries are not exceptional.

It is evident that for the past few years, academic libraries have been operating in a high-velocity environment where information demand, competition, technology, access and copyright issues are constantly changing. However, there has been little systematic empirical research focusing on how academic libraries should strategically respond in order to remain relevant. Pearce and Robinson (2007) observed the need for managers and policy makers in organizations to understand how to react to changes in the environment. Globally, academic libraries have been seeking to sustain competitive competencies in the changing environment. Macmillan and Carlisle (2007) advocated for adoption of a management approach that interacts with their internal and external models of change and embracement of creativity and innovation in order to change at least as fast as consumer expectations. Chakravarthy and Lorange (2007:2) quoted the CEO of Nestle where he had said "to maintain leadership position, firms need to leapfrog, move faster and go beyond what consumers will tell". The adoption of strategic management practices and systems in organizations is therefore critical.

The Nature of Strategic Management Practices in Academic Libraries

Strategic management is defined as the art and science of formulating, implementing, and evaluating cross-functional decisions that enable an organization to achieve its objectives and adapt in the environment (Ward & Peppard 2002). Genus (1995) said that strategic management focuses on integrating all organizational activities for the purpose of achieving organizational success. Pearce and Robinson (2007) views strategic management as the process of specifying an organization's objectives, developing policies and plans to achieve those objectives, and allocating resources so as to implement the plans. They describe it as the highest level of managerial activity that is usually performed by the company's Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and corporate team to provide overall direction to the whole organization.

Abraham and Leavy (2007) argued that the success of theories, concepts and tools in the practice of strategic management is exhibited in careful analysis of industry and competitive conditions, behavior and how managers tackle the task of crafting and executing strategies as opposed to using high powered quantitative techniques. As the pace of change accelerates, Pearce and Robinson (2007) observed that the nature of strategy planning work has shifted from emphasizing analysis and forecasting to communication, co-ordination, and control. This study has noted that library services have evolved over the course of time, and little thought has been given to what strategies might be employed. Many academic libraries are also not certain of underlying implications. Riggs, (2005) said that changes are evolving and being implemented rapidly without forethought. Many academic libraries lack preparedness for this shift. Many are also in dilemma of how they should reform the management process, systems and practices in order to cope (Beinhocker & Kaplan 2006).

Moreover, many academic libraries in Kenya lack clear alignment of their mission and facilities to the emerging trends. Also warranting is the strategic behavior in respect to mushrooming shifts in information seeking behaviors of users. More recent research on usage of electronic resources indicated that a rapidly growing percentage of the use of electronic library resources occurs outside of the library. …

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