Strategic Leadership and Strategy Implementation in Kenyan Public Universities: A Case of Kenyatta University
Kamau, David Muhia
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Strategy implementation is an important phase of the strategic management process because it involves translating the devised strategy into action. However, many academic institutions are often not able to change formulated strategies into successful execution. It is for instance not clear whether strategic direction, strategic cognition, strategic learning and critical successes factors at Kenyatta University can effectively explain and predict strategy implementation at the university. This study aimed at evaluating the effect of strategic direction, strategic cognition and strategic learning on strategy implementation. This study was anchored on the Bourgeous and Brodwin Strategy Implementation Model, Transformational Leadership Theory, and Resource Based Theory. Transformation Leadership model explained both strategic learning and strategic cognition as essential elements of strategy implementation. Bourgeous’ and Brodwin’s Strategy Implementation model focuses more on strategic learning, and critical success factors and strategic cognition. Resource based theory explained strategic direction. This study also heavily relied on the transformational leadership theory which addressed the independent variable of strategic leadership. The research used a descriptive research design where the data was collected using semi-structured questionnaires. The target population of the study consisted of 140 respondents who included directors, registrars, dean of students, heads of institutes and directorates and departmental heads in the Kenyatta University Campuses. Out of 140 of the target population, 59 respondents were sampled for the interview. To ascertain credibility of the study, Content-Scaling–Structure (CSS) procedure was followed to construct the research questionnaire based on the research objectives. Construct validity was realized through making sure that the operational variables reflect the theoretical constructs from reviewed literature. Reliability was attained by use of Cronbach Alpha to assess the internal consistency where all the study parameters returned Cronbach’s alpha coefficients higher than 0.7. The data collected was analyzed within the lenses of descriptive statistics such as mean, standard deviation and percentages as well as inferential statistics in the form of regression analysis. The results show that majority of the interviewees strongly agreed that university leadership is effective in developing strategic vision which gives the institution a sense of direction. It was also observed that Kenyatta University’s strategic leaders have a good understanding of strategies selected. The results indicated that university strategic leaders monitor and continuously align processes with strategies chosen. The study findings indicate that strategic direction, strategic cognition and strategic learning account for 57.2% the variation of strategy implementation of Kenyatta University while other factors explain 42.8%. From results of hypothesis testing, it was evident that strategic direction (β=.213, t=2.546, p<0.000), strategic cognition (β=.454, t=4.989, p<0.021), and strategic learning (β=.235, t=2.527, p<0.019) have positive explanation and prediction on strategy implementation. The study concluded that leaders at the university have good understanding of strategies selected. Additionally, to give institutions sense of direction, the leadership should be effective in developing strategic vision, have well elaborated objectives, have a mission which is aligned to its vision and the strategies well chosen to match with institutional objectives. The Universities should engage experts to guide the strategy formulation process and train employees to develop a sound strategy. This research however advocates that more studies should be conducted to be able to more specifically identify and isolate elements of strategic direction, strategic cognition, and strategic learning and which are suited for not only Kenyatta University but other universities across the country.