Stakeholders' View Of Ghana's University Libraries

Stakeholders' View Of Ghana's University Libraries

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Franco (1995) in a study of human resourcesin the library system of the Pontifical CatholicUniversity of Chile (SUBC) made several ob-servations that confirm some of the findings in this study. On the socio-cultural dimension she also found out that there was a negative impactof historical weaknesses of public libraries andschool libraries on university library development in Chile, exacerbated by poor reading habits ofthe young. Like this study Franco (1995) also found the positive or negative effects of monetaryexchange policies and the markets on the biblio-graphic materials acquisition budget of her uni-versity library. She highlights stringent customslaws and regulations and their negative impacton collection development of SIBUC.This study has also supported results in researchon planning in developing countries, for exampleas regards several factors that differentiate theplanning environment in developing countriesfrom that of developed countries as identified byFlores (1972), Adegbite (1986), Fubara (1986) andMrema (1987). Such factors include the absence oftechnology required to systematically monitor theexternal environment and collect needed data, ahighly unstable economic and political environ-ment, the absence of technological infrastructureand the lack of political will for information-re-lated development.The findings of the present study also supportthe findings of management research in the trans-ferability of management theory and practicesdeveloped in western economies to other coun-tries. The findings of Kiggundu, Jorgensen andHafsi (1983) that managerial activities concerninghow the organisation relates to its environmentwere difficult to transfer from western economicsto developing countries are corroborated by thisstudy. The findings of the survey on the externalenvironment from the major stakeholder perspec-tive developed further the character of strategicdecision-making in Ghana and university librar-ies in particular. It is evident that the economicand political factors were the most dynamic andmost hostile of all the five environmental seg-ments of political, economic, socio-cultural, tech-nological and international.The perceived high level of environmental un-certainty in the political environment in thisstudy is centred primarily on government regula-tions and interventions. This however has beenthe norm in the history of the universities inGhana but the present university workers havealways opposed every new policy of the presentgovernment. What is new here is the degree ofuncertainty that the libraries are encountering inother areas – uncertainty as to closures of librariesbecause of a striking pressure group, uncertaintyas to the future balance between national anduniversity interests as government attempts torevamp the economy, uncertainty as to continuouscompetition between libraries and other depart-ments of the universities for limited resources and

Macroenvironmental Analysis for Strategic Management273the gradual erosion of the powerbase of the librar-ies that prevents them from competing effectivelyfor these resources.

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Indeed, it is these factors inthe political scene that make the environment un-stable and unpredictable. The ‘power shift' in therelationship between universities and governmenthas been probably the most profound unsettlingto universities since it entails simultaneously, thefunding regulations, increased interventions andheightened government expectations of corporateperformance.The economic environment was characterisedas discouraging any future-oriented and risk-re-lated decisions (Boist and Child 1988). In additionto traditional concerns about the underdevelopedeconomy of Ghana, the rampant inflation in thelast two decades affects the purchase of books andperiodicals. Wright, Kroll and Pernell (1996) havehighlighted the main constraining effect of high in-flation rates on business and the strategy process.The volatility of foreign exchange rates wasalso found to affect strategic decisions of the librar-ies. In a similar study Wilson (1994) also foundthe negative effect that the volatility of foreignexchange rate has on industry restructuring thatrequires a shift in strategic management's focus,emphasis and methodologies to speed the processof corporate adaptation to these changes. Ferguson(1992) writes that the daily deterioration o thevalue of the local currencies of most developingcountries against other international currenciesmakes the future far less predictable and difficultto implement rationale strategic planning. In thisstudy it was revealed that the effect of the de-preciation of the local currency has affected uni-versity libraries' international orders.As the political and economic environmentshave proved in this study to be major sources ofuncertainty for the university libraries in Ghanaand planners in Ghana at large, future plannersmust be responsible for identifying external op-portunities and threats, implementing strategicchanges and achieving the organisation/environ-ment alignment. Miles, Snow and Pfeffer (1974)also theorise that managers respond primarily towhat they perceived. Strategic action is depend-ent upon perceptions and interpretations of theenvironment (Schneider and DeMeyer 1991).The perceptions and interpretations are, subject to in-fluences at multiple levels of analysis, e.g. individualcharacteristics, group process an environmental context(Hambrick and Mason 1984; Miller 1993). It was found inthis study that despite the awareness of the uncertaintythat has characterised the strategic decisions of the majorstakeholders, a result of environmental turbulence par-ticularly in the economic and political spheres, they havenot responded or interpreted these changes in their en-vironment.The study further revealed that environmentalissues are not considered important to organisa-tional performance and university and librarymanagement have not shown any interest inthem, a situation which itself creates a high per-ceived environmental uncertainty. Miliken (1987)states that, in practice, perceived environmentaluncertainty exists when decision-makers do notfeel confident that they care or understand whatthe major events or trends in an environment are,or when they feel unable to accurately assignprobabilities to the likelihood that particularevents and/or changes will occur.Information from important sectors of the en-vironment may become a source of competitiveadvantage (Dutton and Freedman 1984). In a sec-tor of high performance, external events are alsoperceived to be directly linked to operational per-formance. According to Daft, Sormunen andParks (1988), perceived sector performance trans-lates into strategic uncertainty. In essence, stra-tegic uncertainty reflects the strategic value ofenvironmental information for organisationalperformance. The combination of perceived en-vironmental uncertainty and sector importance isexpected to generate a need for the librarians andto a greater extent the university administratorsto scan events in selected environmental sectors –the political and economic. Environmental scan-ning is the means through which managers per-ceived external events and trends (Hambrick1982; Culnan 1983). Following Daft, Sormunenand Parks (1988), top executive scanning frequen-cy is believed to have a positive relationship withperceived strategic uncertainty across environ-mental sector.One constraining aspect of environmental scan-ning as found in this study is that the major stake-holders perceived environmental scanning as adifficult organisational process because the envi-ronment is complex and they experience boundedrationality-that is, they cannot comprehensivelyunderstand the environment (Cyert and March

Edwin Ellis Badu2741992). Others also claimed that the libraries ontheir part lacked the capacities to analyse the en-vironment. That is why the findings of this study-the political and economic sector importance inthe Ghanaian external environment must be takenseriously as posing the most threat to universitylibrary development, so they ought to choose thesesectors among scanning alternatives. The selectionof a given scanning mode by sector executiveshowever is conceptualised as being critically in-fluenced by perceived strategic uncertaintyacross sectors (Daft, Sormunen and Parks 1988).The librarians will have to avoid temporary ap-proaches that postpone the inevitable adjustmentneeded to gain and keep strategic fit. Hunger andWheelan (1995) advise against three basic orien-tations – avoidance (ignore or hide), react (react,reorganise or follow the leader) and influence(advertise, lobby, co-opting). Instead libraries willhave to anticipate future developments by plan-ning strategically. This involves the macro-environmental analysis of the strategic positionof the libraries through the identification of op-portunities and threats in the political and eco-nomic environments, particularly governmenteducational reforms, legislation and employment,strength of the Ghanaian currency, import dutiesetc. The data gained may be considered in con-junction with the internal strategic capabilities ofthe libraries as a useful input into managementthinking about future strategic decision-making.ReferencesAdegbite, O. 1986. Planning in Nigeria business, LongRange Planning 19(2): 28 – 103.Boist, M. and Child J. 1988. The iron laws of fiefs; bu-reaucratic failure and the problem of governance inthe Chinese economic reforms. Administrative Sci-ence Quarterly 33(4): 507 – 27.Creswell, John. 1994. Research design: qualitative andquantitative approaches. London: Sage.Culnan, M.J. 1983. Environmental scanning: the effectsof task complexity and source accessibility on in-formation gathering behaviour. Decision Science 14:194 – 206.Cyert, Richard Michael and March, James G. 1992. Abehavioural theory of the firm. Englewood Cliffs, NJ:Prentice Hall.Daft, R.L., Sormunen, J. and Parks, D. 1988. Chief ex-ecutive scanning environmental characteristics andcompany performance: an empirical study. StrategicManagement Journal 9 (2): 123 – 30.Duncan, R.B. 1972. Characteristics of organisationalenvironments and perceived uncertainty. Administra-tive Quarterly 17: 313 – 27.Dutton, J.M and R.D. Freedman. 1984. Uncertainty andfirms strategic behaviours. Working paper, New YorkUniversity.Ferguson, S. 1992. Strategic planning in national librar-ies in developing countries: an optimists view IFIAnews 18(4): 339–54.Flores, F. 1972. The applicability of American manage-ment practices to developing countries; a case studyof Philippines. Management International Review 12(1):83 – 89.Franco, Maria Luisa. 1995. Strategic planning of hu-man resource in the library system of the PontificalCatholic University of Chile. Library management16(3): 5 –23.Fubara, Bedford A. 1986 Corporate planning in Ni-geria, Long Range Planning 19 (2): 28 – 103.Hambrick D.C. 1981. Environmental strategy andpower within top management teams. Administra-tive Quarterly 26(1): 253 – 75.Hambrick, Donald C. 1982. Environmental scanningand organisational strategy. Strategy ManagementJournal 3(2): 159 –74Hambrick, D. C. and Mason, P. A. 1984. Upper eche-lons: the organization as a reflection of its top man-agers. Academy of Management Review 9(2, April):193-206.Huber, George P. and Daft, Richard. 1987. InformationEnvironments. In: Putnam, L. et al. (eds.) Handbookof organisational communication: pp.130–164. BeverlyHills, CA: Sage.Hunger, J.D. and Wheelan, Thomas L. 1995. Strategicmanagement. 5thed. Reading, Mass: Addison–Wesley.Kiggundu, M. N., Jorgensen, J.J. and Hafsi, T. 1983.Administrative theory and practice in developingcountries. Administrative Science Quarterly 28(1): 66-84Miles, R. E., Snow, C.C., and Pfeffer J. 1974. Organisa-tion – environment: concepts and issues. IndustrialRelations 13: 244 – 64.Miliken, F.J. 1987. Three types of perceived uncertaintyabout the environment: state effect and responseuncertainty. Academy of management review 12(1):133–143.Miller, K.D. 1993. Industry country effects on manag-er's perceptions of environmental uncertainty. Jour-nal of International Business Studies 24(24): 693 – 794.Mrema, E.L. 1987. Strategic planning in Tanzania. LongRange Planning 20(3): 165 –110.Patton, M.Q. 1980. Paradigms and pragmatism. In: Fet-terman, D.M. (ed.) Qualitative approaches to evaluationin education. New York: Praeger.

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