Strategic Planning in Australian Universities

By: Tess Howes  

To an experienced eye, a Strategic Plan provides some insights into the strategic leadership of the university. However, the document itself is single dimensional; it may or may not reveal how the strategy development process was conducted, what forms of leadership were used to drive the planning process; or how well the Strategic Plan was received by the university community and its stakeholders. Is it possible to discern if the Strategic Plan is fixed to an inflexible performance framework that binds the university to strategic goals that do not reflect community aspirations, or are no longer compatible with changed external or internal circumstances? Does the Strategic Plan suggest dynamic staff engagement that will empower individuals throughout the university to “experiment, create, develop, test and innovate”? For as Moss Kanter (1983) argues “innovation requires intellectual effort. And that, in turn, means people” (p.23). This paper will explore these questions and assess if Australian universities have learned to develop effective Strategic Plans through a process of logical incrementalism or ‘learning by doing’ as Quinn suggests (1987); or are we planning strategically for 2030 using the rational-analytical model that is only able to predict the future based on what we know today?

"Leadership", " Strategic", " Planning"
Change Management
Paper Presentation in a Themed Session

Tess Howes

Macquarie University, Australia

Dr Tess Howes is passionate about teaching the next generation of management professionals. Teaching areas of interest are primarily: management theory and practice, organisational theory and design, leadership, project leadership and organisational behaviour (La Trobe University); leadership in management, strategic management, communication for effective leadership and influence and leadership in action (Macquarie University). The focus of Dr Howes' research is on the relationship between leadership and strategic in the Australian university sector. A recent paper published by the Journal of Higher Education Policy Management explored the question: "Leading strategic planning in Australian universities: how good are we and how do we know"? See the following link: Tess's teaching is informed by extensive senior management experience at 3 Australian universities: The University of Technolgy, Sydney; Sydney University and Macquarie University. She is also an executive leadership MasterCoach and Director of her own coaching practice, Noble Howes Coaching and Consulting and Director of a professional ife story writing business, My Life My Story Pty. Ltd.