Strategic change management at the University of Nairobi
Organizations whether in public or private sector are affected by changes taking place in the environment in which they operate. It is imperative therefore for organizations to formulate strategies on how to tackle these challenges. This is through planning and effective implantation of change programmes. Successful organizations have developed systems of managing change. Kaplan and Norton (2008) argue that companies using formal systems of change management outperform their peers. Management spends a great deal of time managing change in order to ensure that the organization continue to add value to resources as external world changes (Bobby and Parton, 1998). Pettigrew and Whipp (1993) points out that since change usually require some significant modification in behavior, generating action in a new direction is usually difficult than maintaining present levels. Change may challenge the interest of some stakeholders leading to resistance. Management must therefore be skillfully in handling change management. Change is usually presented as aligning the organization with external demands. McLoughlin and Clark, (1994) argues that most managers accept the need for change, but many were anxious about the outcome of the change and the way it had been carried out. Various models for planned change have been put forward for managing change. These include Lewin’s (1951) Three-step model of change and Force Field Analysis model, Kotter’s (1995) Eight-step model, Kanter et al (1992)’s model of change management, and Bullock and Battern (1985) integrated Four-phase model of planned change, and Beer et al (1990) Ten-step change process model. The study explored how strategic change management approaches were employed at the University of Nairobi. The objectives of the study were to establish how strategic change was managed at the University of Nairobi and to determine the challenges management faced in implementation of change programmes. The findings indicated that the need for change at the University of Nairobi was necessitated by the need to set a new strategic direction that was to propel the institution to higher levels of effectiveness, efficiency and relevance which was in line with its revised vision of being "A world class university with scholarly excellence”. This research was conducted through a case study of the University of Nairobi. The research design entailed utilization of qualitative research techniques for data collection to better understand how strategic change management at the University of Nairobi was undertaken. The design was appropriate as it provided insights into the research problem by describing the variables of interest in details. Primary data was collected by conducting personal interviews of the top university administrators with the help of an interview guide. The data collected was summarized according to the study themes being the approaches for change management and challenges encountered in implementation of change programmes. Data was then analyzed using content analysis. The study established that the institution embraces change management practices. It was clear from the findings that the university managed the change process by first, setting the vision, mission and values of the institution. This was followed by undertaking strategic analysis through evaluating past performance and conducting a SWOT analysis. This was followed by developing strategic objectives which highlighted what the university desired to achieve. Each strategic objective had its corresponding strategies on how it was to be accomplished. Then the institution developed an implementation framework of how strategic plans were to be cascaded to lower units of the university, the appropriate structures for implementation, monitoring and evaluation. This was followed by an action plan and finally the actual change programme. The researcher identified a number of challenges to the change process. This included resistance to change, inadequate resources, Competition, bureaucratic process in the University, inability of the university to attract and retain staff, trade unionism and inability of some staff to concentrate on meeting their set targets and responsibilities. The respondents noted that the university had to address these challenges by developing strategies on how to counter them. In addition, the findings noted that the leadership of the institution played a critical role in the change process. Following the findings of this study, it recommends that a proper framework should be developed that links the various strategy implementation together. This is through creation of new comprehensive management system that the institution can use to sustain world class strategy execution. This is by clarifying the organization’s goals and through conducting strategic analysis, planning organization’s strategy by selecting theme based measures, targets, and initiatives, along with accountability for performance, aligning the organizational units and employees to the strategy, planning operations, through priority setting and resource allocation, monitoring and learning from operations and strategy, and testing and adopting the strategy. It further recommends that the university should strengthen monitoring system to continuously monitor and evaluate the change outcome. This will ensure the gains achieved are not eroded and business as usual returns in the institution. The university should also do more to mobilize resources to facilitate implementation of reforms and come up with ways of dealing with resistance to change especially among the academic staff. To oversee all these processes, the researcher recommends creation of Office of strategy Management. This office will serve as a kind of championing team - coordinating activities across functions and departmental units and keeping everyone synchronized over time. This will enable the institution to quickly and reliably execute its strategic changes. The study further gives limitations and suggestion for further research. Various limitation identified by the researcher included in availability of some of the respondents, the study only focused on one university and some changes were still in the process of being implemented. It is recommended that an evaluation of the change process be conducted in future for comparability since the strategic changes at the university were ongoing. A cross-sectional study in other public, private and foreign universities in Kenya should also be carried out to establish their experience on strategic change management.