STRATEGIC PLANNING PROCESS AT A SWEDISH HIGHER EDUCATION INSTITUTION : The case of Malmö University
Abstract: Education plays an essential role in people’s lives, throughout history institutions have been made for the better development of knowledge to the society. Contemporary challenges like, digital revolution, demographic changes, and data economy navigates civilization to the so-called knowledge society (Smidt, 2010). The whole Higher Education sector is affected by the contemporary challenges (Maric, 2013). There is an ever-growing need for Higher Education Institutions (HEI) in the knowledge society. But, Higher Education Institutions are now even more at crossroads between their traditional views of education's intrinsic value and the increased demands of the knowledge society (Baker & Baldwin, 2015). Therefore, education institutions, especially its leaders, tend to react to this challenge and enhance their potential future by adapting to the changes. The way it can be achieved is by thinking strategically about the organization’s future and creating the “Strategy Document”. What is more, strategy planning is an effective tool to develop higher education institutions’ vision of the future (Sevier, 2003). But, involving members of an educational organization in the creation of a “Strategy Document” is also challenging. Applying digital media technologies in the strategy creation process offers better engaged members in strategies. The purpose of this thesis is to examine how a higher education institution plans its strategy, to understand the challenges presented to the community and the role media technology plays in the planning process. Furthermore, this thesis has sought to explore a way to enhance organization wide participation in the planning process. By adopting the inductive approach driven action-oriented research methodology and building on the theory of interpretation, the thesis has attempted to examine how Malmö University organizes its strategy planning process together with how stakeholders of Malmö University could be part of the strategy planning. According to the findings, the strategy planning process was conducted at Malmö University without involving all interested members of the institution, but involving some uncertainties. For example, there was no methodology applied for planning the process, the deadlines originated from the final announcement of the publication of the strategy, therefore it is hard to track and develop the process in the future. And the role of students was questionable, as they were represented by the president of the student union, but the strategy creation group was not thinking with the students' mind. A prototype of a future-oriented workshop for people without a strategic thinking background has been tested in this thesis to support participation for all members of Malmö University in the strategy planning process. It indicates specific questions, topics and discussions to support participants to enhance their everyday thinking and be able to ideate on a more abstract level to phrase strategical ideas and overcome their barriers with the abstractness of strategic thinking. The results show that Malmö University based its strategy planning process on a 10-20 members sized strategy planning group’s effort, rather than collected information about its stakeholders views. Media technology was used to enhance institution wide participation as it mediated discussions through different employees, but not all stakeholder groups were invited (e.g. students were not).
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