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Title: Study of the strategic decision making process in higher education institutions
Author: Aldhaen, Esra Saleh
ISNI:       0000 0004 6346 8727
Awarding Body: Brunel University London
Current Institution: Brunel University
Date of Award: 2017
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The strategic decision making process (SDMP) is a major issue in organisations. It is part of the larger topic of strategic management and related to strategic planning. Achievement of strategic objectives outlined in the strategic plan of an organisation depends on the decisions taken through the process. Yet the literature shows that the concept of SDMP is not well understood and organisations find it difficult to develop and implement an SDMP, particularly Higher Education Institutions (HEIs). The literature indicates that decisions are taken in organizations in different ways for example using intuition, data, collaboration and ad-hoc considerations. In addition contextual factors are argued to affect the SDMP although very little research has been conducted to explain how contextual factors affect SDMP they do in HEIs. Some examples of contextual factors namely decision process characteristics have been identified and discussed as part of the SDMP literature in industry. However, lack of knowledge about SDMP and how contextual factors influence SDMP is regarded as to be a major obstacle for HEIs in taking decisions and choosing the best alternative amongst available decisions. This research seeks to contribute to address this important issue. Whilst there are many strategic decision characteristics (contextual factors) identified in the literature, this research focuses on decision importance. The rationale for choosing decision importance was that there is always some concern in the minds of the decision makers in the HEIs on what constitutes an important decision. What is considered as important decision while the decision is being taken may prove to be less important after implementation if there is no clear understanding of how to assign importance to a decision. Even in the industrial sector, Elbanna and Child (2007) it has been argued that decision importance has not been studied well. Relying upon the theoretical model developed by Elbanna and Child and other arguments found in the literatue, this research argued that the SDMP is a combination of relationships between decision characteristics, SDMP characteristics and decision outcomes that are influenced by environmental factors. As far as environmental factors were concerned environmental uncertainty was chosen as an external environment factor while organisational performance was chosen as the internal contextual factor. These two factors were argued to moderate the relationship between SDMP characteristics and SDMP outcomes and theoretical support for this conceptualisation was taken from the model developed by Elbanna and Child. A research model was developed to address the research questions, and the aim of the study was “to examine the different decision specific characteristic, SDMP characteristic and SDMP process outcome variables and develop a relationship amongst them in the context of HEIs in a changing environment”. The research was conducted in the United States of America and data was gathered from faculty members involved in decision making at the department level and higher. A positivist epistemological and objective ontological stance was adopted and a deductive approach was used. The research model was tested using the data collected from 485 valid responses to a survey questionnaire. Linear regression was the primary analysis approach and supplemented by path analysis. Results from the regression analysis showed that decision importance exerts influence on decision effectiveness through the mediators, rationality in decision making, intuition and decentralization in decision making. However, the outcome of path analysis showed that only rationality in decision making and intuition are important while decentalisation was not found to be statistically significant. Similarly environmental factors exerted pressure only on the relationship between rationality in decision making and decision effectiveness. The contradicting SDMP factors rationality in decision making and intuition were both found to be necessary to SDMP in the HEI context. This research has contributed to knowledge in terms of establishing a relationship between decision importance and decision process effectiveness mediated by rationality in decision making and intuition and development of the model. Theoretically the findings of this research show that the modification imposed on the model developed by Elbanna and Child was found to be statistically significant and found support from the literature. Environmental factors affected the relationship between rationality in decision making and decision effectiveness. This research has provided a model that can be used to help decision makers in HEIs to implement SDMP practically in the organization, to guide the process towards more robust decisions. The findings of this research find application in supporting policy makers to increase the likelihood of more effective decisions so that the decisions taken more effective.
Supervisor: Gallear, D. ; Eldabi, T. A. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Strategic decision making process (SMP) ; Higher education institutions (HEI) ; Strategic decision characteristic ; Strategic process characteristic ; Strategic process outcome