Higher education-economic sector linkage strategies, competitive forces and performance of the public and private universities incorporated in Kenya
The heightened debate on competitive forces attempt to explain why some firms perform better than others within the same industry. While resource based view emphasises the role of firm resources, five forces model focuses industry forces as the critical determinants of firm performance. However, most scholars attribute the difference in firm performance to both the two perspectives. Therefore, it has been difficult to distinguish the relative role of firm resources and industry forces in explaining firm performance. This study sought to contribute to knowledge by assessing the extent to which competitive forces influence the relationship between linkage strategies and performance of universities in Kenya. The study premised on the view that establishing the relative roles of these competitive forces would enable the firm maximise the opportunities available to neutralise threats and utilise its strength to reduce its weaknesses, gain competitive advantage and hence improve performance. The main objective of the study was to establish the moderating effect of competitive forces on the relationship between linkage strategies and performance of universities in Kenya. The study was guided by four specific objectives examining the moderating effect of competitive forces on the relationship between linkage strategies and organisational performance. Resource based view and five forces model were reviewed as the two main theories anchoring the study. Descriptive crosssectional survey was adopted as the research design .The population of the study consists of sixty five (65) public and private universities incorporated in Kenya. Out of this, a sample of forty seven (47) universities which had undergone at least one graduation cycle was taken. Primary and secondary data was collected using semistructured questionnaires and review of existing university documents and regulatory bodies‟ websites. The instrument was tested for reliability and found fit. Analysis was undertaken using correlation and regression analyses to test hypotheses. Analysis of variance was also used to analyse the differences between group means. Out of the targeted forty seven (47) respondents from forty seven (47) universities, a total of forty four (44) questionnaires were returned, representing 94% response rate. It was established that positive and significant correlations existed between linkage strategies and university performance. Compared to industry forces, resource conditions had stronger moderating effect on the relationship between linkage strategies and university performance in Kenya. It was also established that competitive forces jointly predict performance and have significant joint moderating effect on the relationship between linkage strategies and university performance. The joint moderating effect of competitive forces on the relationship between linkage strategies and university performance was different from their separate effects. The findings were consistent with those of previous studies. The researcher concluded that the joint moderating effect of competitive forces on the relationship between linkage strategies and performance of universities in Kenya is different from their separate effects. The results provided have rich implications for theory, policy and practice. The significance of firm resources in strategy formulation and implementation cannot be overlooked. The findings offer insights to university authorities and policy makers by answering the question on the relative role of competitive forces in influencing the relationship between linkage strategies and organisational performance. The key recommendation that the study offers to the stakeholders, is to strike a balance between internal resources considerations and industry forces in strategy formulation and implementation. The main limitation of this study is that primary data was collected from only one respondent per university but common methods bias was mitigated through the use of additional secondary data to validate primary data. Thus, the limitation did not affect the credence of the results as presented and discussed. Secondly, although it was not possible to include all the determinants of institutional performance, balanced score card was appropriately used to represent financial and non financial aspects that constitute performance indicators.