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Serving the market or serving society? The evolution of strategic planning in Irish universities 1997-2019

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posted on 2022-10-07, 13:11 authored by Orla BanksOrla Banks
Strategic planning has become a cornerstone in the management of Irish universities, responding initially to the 1997 Universities Act and more recently to a national and international policy environment. Irish universities are increasingly required to deliver government policy objectives, particularly those related to social and economic development. How they do this is articulated through their strategic plans. The purpose of this thesis is to examine how the universities’ approaches to strategic planning have evolved since 1997. Specifically, it assesses the degree to which strategic planning processes have been driven by the New Public Management (NPM) model at the expense of emerging approaches such as Public Value Management, which, it is argued have the potential to embrace a more holistic approach to public management. This thesis examines the main public sector management and strategic planning theories, how these have evolved within the context of political, economic and social development and how they are reflected in Irish public management and in the management of Irish Higher Education. It details the process of strategy formulation, implementation and evaluation in Irish universities since 1997 through a detailed content analysis of the universities’ strategic plans and Elite Interviews with senior leaders and commentators in the university sector. The research finds evidence of an NPM approach to strategic planning which has ‘hardened’ as a consequence of economic austerity, the creation of the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform and the implementation of the National Strategy for Higher Education to 2030, launched in 2011. Thus, strengthening hierarchical and centralised control, increased regulation and heightened accountability are clearly visible. There is very little evidence of movement beyond NPM, with Public Value Management or other emerging approaches largely absent, though the research suggests that Public Value Management may have potential to add value to strategic planning in Irish universities.

History

Degree

  • Doctoral

First supervisor

McInerney, Chris

Second supervisor

Connaughton, Bernadette

Note

peer-reviewed

Language

English

Department or School

  • Politics & Public Administration

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