Competitive strategies adopted by universities in Kenya
All over the world, higher education has acquired an unusual profile in the last decade because of its importance in the struggle for nations to survive in a fast changing world. Further, the information communication technology revolution, which has turned the world into a global village, has created a global labour market. To remain relevant, universities in all over the world have been forced to redefine their mission and review their curriculum to produce graduates with “global skills”. Due to this changing environment that brings with it increased competition for the limited resources, market share and new competitive challenges, implementation of competitive strategies within organizations is very important. To ensure survival and success, universities need to develop capability to manage threats and exploit emerging opportunities promptly. The objectives of the study were to establish the competitive strategies used by Kenyan universities, and to determine the challenges encountered by these universities in implementing competitive strategies. In order to achieve these objectives, a descriptive design was adopted and a census study carried out. Primary data was collected using a semi-structured questionnaire which was administered either through drop and pick later approach, mail or personally. The data collected in the first section of the questionnaire was analyzed using frequency distributions and percentages to determine the profile of responding institutions. While data in section two and three was analyzed using mean scores and standard deviations to determine the extent Kenyan universities practice competitive strategies and the challenges encountered in implementing the strategies. The study found out that Kenyan universities use satisfactory quality of teaching and recognized degree with acceptable quality in order to achieve overall cost leadership. High teaching quality, highly skilled and competent lecturers and course content being covered within the prescribed time frame were the main ways Kenyan universities achieved differential advantage. In relation to focused strategy, it was observed that Kenyan universities mainly offered market driven courses and ensured flexibility on courses offered. Other competitive strategies employed by the universities were subsidizing fee for staff dependants, offering school based courses, employing lecturers Vll on part time basis and publicity to create and enhance positive image of the university. The research found out that the major challenge for Kenyan universities is huge financial requirement to establish and run the university. Recommendations made for policy and practice included putting in place a comprehensive national research policy to help identify pertinent research themes that are closely tied with the country’s development needs. A policy should also be put in place to guide the institutions of higher learning to concentrate on academic programmes at their level while encouraging potential trainees to join post secondary institutions as a way of staring university education through direct credit transfer. The Commission of Higher Education should be in the forefront.
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