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Published
September 14, 2020

Untangling the History and Procedures of Strategic Planning

We Review a Century of Literature for Answers

Almost since the time when the concept of strategic planning first appeared in the literature of higher education, its value has been questioned. Do strategic plans help institutions achieve excellence, or are they more likely to gather dust on a shelf? Perspectives are presented through a review of nearly 100 years of the history and theoretical basis for strategic plans.

From Volume 48 Number 4 | July–September 2020

Abstract: Is a strategic plan necessary for institutional success? In preparation for a new strategic plan at UTEP, we reviewed literature and found many publications that described the procedures of plan making and also case studies of how plans are produced. We also found substantial literature that questioned the value of strategic plans. These findings prompted us to think about the historical and theoretical basis for strategic plans: How did they emerge, what is their theoretical value, and is there a right way to do them? In our article we offer surprising answers to these questions based on a review of a century of theory and planning literature.

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Using Positive Turbulence for Planning and Change

As higher education leaders, we must take charge of our destinies and shape our industry by harnessing the forces of positive change using innovative, intentional approaches.

From Volume 46 Number 4 | July–September 2018

Abstract: Today we find our institutions barraged by the forces of change, and dutifully we respond. Over time, however, we end up molding our institutions to these forces to our own peril, and now U.S. higher education is on the ropes, so to speak. We believe education leaders should take hold of our destinies and shape our industry not by the forces of lackluster government policy, self-serving press and media, and for-profit mega corporations, but to serve true learning and personal growth. There are many tools we can use to lead change. This article introduces the concept of Positive Turbulence, an intentional, disruptive approach for positive change, to the education industry.

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Instituting a New Degree Program

A Case Study of University Planning

Change in higher education rests on the skills of administrators and their knowledge of the strengths and weaknesses of various planning approaches described in this case study.

From Volume 45 Number 4 | July–September 2017

Abstract: The past two decades have seen great social change and both massive consolidation and expansion of institutions of higher education, clearly presenting circumstances warranting the use of formal approaches to planning. Varying planning theories, past failures and successes, and differing circumstances have generated several partially contrasting planning models to guide organizational change. Therefore, institutions of higher education have a variety of such approaches from which to choose. This article presents a case study illustrating the use of several approaches to planning that is distinctive because it relies heavily upon experience-based planning, examples of which are unfortunately lacking in the literature base.

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Responsibility Center Budgeting and Management “Lite” in University Finance

Why Is RCB/RCM Never Fully Deployed?

Despite its promise of revenue generation, cost reduction, and a host of other benefits, what is it about RCB/RCM that leads universities to deploy it only partially?

From Volume 45 Number 3 | April–June 2017

Abstract: After its first application nearly 40 years ago, responsibility center budgeting/responsibility center management (RCB/RCM) is now in place at nearly 70 major North American universities. An unstudied fact is that despite its popularity RCB/RCM is rarely deployed to its fullest extent. Instead, it usually exists in parallel with conventional planning and budget models. This study asks why, instead of fully implementing RCB/RCM, universities have chosen to apply it partially. The study finds multiple explanations. On the revenue side, some universities hold back a portion of income to create funds that are used to underwrite institution-wide strategies or subsidize mission-central academic programs that cannot be fiscally sustained under RCB/RCM. In other cases, revenue is held back to fund shared “public utility” services, while in still others the practice of holding back revenue for allocation by some other means is due to difficulty in drawing a functional line between the “academic” and the “non-academic.” On the cost side, some universities have limited the application of RCB/RCM in order to limit market behavior and forestall “fragmentation” (Burke 2007). The study points to several problems in both the practice and theory of RCB/RCM. For example, models meant in theory to complement RCB/RCM may in practice compete with it or promote monopolistic behavior.

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Enriching Planning Through Industry Analysis

The authors perform an ‘industry analysis’ for higher education, using the five forces model of M.E. Porter.

From Volume 38 Number 1 | October–December 2009

Abstract: Strategic planning is an important tool, but the sole dependence on it across departments and campuses has resulted in the underutilization of equally important methods of analysis. The evolution of higher and postsecondary education necessitates a systemic industry analysis, as the combination of new providers and delivery mechanisms and changing social parameters gives rise to increased competition and innovation. This article tests the applicability of Porter’s five forces model to the higher education industry. While the model provides significant insight into the industry, it has been revised in this article to incorporate government as a prominent sixth force in the analysis.

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Culture, Context, and the Pursuit of Sustainability

Contemplating Problems, Parameters, and Possibilities in an Increasingly Complex World

No more ‘business as usual’; we must understand the importance of place and culture, and engage in our design work responsibly and with great innovation.

From Volume 38 Number 1 | October–December 2009

Abstract: Modern design and planning are routinely confounded by endemic conditions of deep fragmentation, rampant bureaucratization, and ineffective regulation. Such barriers hamper our ability to succeed in the execution of responsive, responsible, and superb ventures. Added to the mix are cost escalation, outdated technologies, cumbersome techniques, conservative posturing, and the damages of “value” engineering. In such a milieu, it becomes extremely difficult to move from concept through construction with clarity, continuity, and even integrity. Abandoned are often the inspiring, enduring, and delightful qualities that elevate buildings to Architecture. Innovative mindsets and methods must be realized to improve the quality of our built environments, especially considering resources are limited, expectations are soaring, and the need for change is non-negotiable. The author presents a holistic integrative framework for more successful and sustainable environmental design. Included are considerations of agility, fitness, diversity, and delight—aspects that loom large in equations for ingenuity in contemporary times.

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A Developmental Perspective on Planning

Traditional planning fails to consider the complex, unpredictable ways that institutions change and develop.

From Volume 26 Number 4 | Summer 1998

Abstract: Contends that most planners make assumptions about planning and about human and institutional ability to change, and that these assumptions necessarily impact the outcome of strategic planning efforts. Examines the functions served in planning comprehensive institutional change, and suggests that planning failures reflect too great a focus on technique and outcome. Applies the analogy of human development to illustrate the organizational life cycle, with an exploration of institutional "identity issues" – the physical, social, and psychological aspects, as well as the institution’s sense of self.

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