Universities worldwide are facing challenges arising from a high level of competitiveness and pressure to deliver their strategic intents according to their mission and vision statements; however, they lack the capacity to sustain achievement of their full potential. Empirical evidence suggests the existence of performance complexities in universities, but few endeavours have been directed towards understanding the manner in which the execution of strategic intent affects performance of universities in Kenya. This study sought to investigate dimensions of strategic intent execution and performance of universities in Kenya. The specific objectives of the study were: assess the effect of organisational leadership, strategic communication, and strategy alignment variables on performance of universities in Kenya; assess the combined effect of dimensions of strategic intent execution on performance of universities in Kenya; establish the mediating effect of process execution on the relationship between dimensions of strategic intent execution and performance of universities in Kenya; and determine the moderating influence of institutional environment on the relationship between dimensions of strategic intent execution and performance of universities in Kenya. The study adopted a mixed research design consisting of explanatory and cross-sectional survey designs. The target population was 25 universities that had been in operational for at least five years by the time of this study. These universities had a total of 289 respondents at managerial and faculty levels. A sample of 168 respondents was selected using stratified and simple random sampling techniques. Primary data were collected using an interview schedule and a self-administered semi-structured questionnaire based on a five-point Likert scale. Secondary data were collected through document review of strategic plans, and university quality circles and policy manuals. Descriptive statistics was used to summarise the survey data while multiple regression analysis was utilised for testing the research hypotheses and drawing conclusion. An analysis was through using Stata version 21.0. The results were exhibited in form of figures and tables. Qualitative data were analysed using content analysis and the findings presented according to patterns and themes. The study revealed the existence of a positive relationship between dimensions of strategic intent execution and performance of universities in Kenya in which organisational leadership, strategic communication, and strategy alignment were statistically significant. The study also found a partial mediation effect of process execution on the relationship between organisational strategic intent execution and performance. The findings further revealed that institutional environment had no moderating effect on the relationship between organisational strategic intent execution and performance. The findings of this research are likely to trigger policy makers in universities to develop new competencies and capacities using strategic intent as a key resource. The research findings could provide a framework for improving the performance of universities in Kenya as the key pillars in the education sector as well as the realisation of Vision 2030. As universities evaluate the execution of their strategic intent, the results of this study could be of value in calling for intensified action and goodwill in the form of investment in the key dimensions of strategic intent, which are critical to the performance of these institutions.
CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCTION
Background of the Study
Higher education plays a vital role of building the human resources capacity required to support the economic development and growth of countries (Jalaliyoon & Taherdoost, 2012).The higher education sector, however, has been experiencing fierce competitiveness in the context of globalisation of education (Marginson, 2007). The competitive arena has brought in new frameworks, which build upon strategic management or integration of the vision, mission, and objectives as important determinants of the direction the organisation is taking (Hinton, 2012). The vision, mission, and objectives are components of strategic intent, which is considered crucial for the achievement of higher performance, direction, and consistency in the allocation of organisational resources (Marjanova & Fotov, 2014).
Strategic planning process involves analysing the organisation’s internal and external environment followed by careful and logical planning of the execution process and making useful choices. To achieve their performance targets, organisations such as universities ought to build synergy between strategy planning and execution for effective integration of their plans towards advancing the missions of their institutions (Bowlby, 2011). One of the most important strategies is strategic intent, which refers to the relentless pursuit to realize an aspiring strategic objective and anticipated business
situation through cautiously intertwining and harmonizing of the organization’s vision,
mission and strategic objectives (Thompson, Strickland & Gamble, 2005).
In order for organisations such as universities to be successful in the exploitation of their resources and at the same time drive their competitive advantage, they must employ a holistic approach towards the formulation and execution of their strategic intent, which affect performance (Guohui & Eppler, 2008). Ordinarily, the chore of providing direction, or strategic intent, lies with the organizational executives and the chief executive officers (CEOs) of universities (which are typical organisations) are so apprehensive about strategy execution that they regard it as the most difficult issue in management (Fourie & Westhuizen, 2008).
African education is characterised by varying complexities in a changing environment and these factors have an adverse effect on performance (Teferra, & Altbachl, 2004; Shin & Harman, 2009). African universities are also faced with unprecedented challenges and difficulties in providing quality education, creative undertaking of research, and the services required for the continent to grow (Kilemi et al., 2007; Altbach, Reisberg & Rumbley, 2009). In response to these challenges, many countries have adopted comprehensive reviews alongside the execution of plans to restructure their higher education systems (Deem, Mok & Lucas, 2008).