Creativity barriers in South African higher education institution / Andrea Garnett
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Many organisations use strategic management as an imperative to gain competitive advantages. Theorists have not been able to ascertain whether prescriptive or emergent strategic approaches will be most suitable within an organisational climate for sustaining these competitive advantages. The notion of creativity has been identified as a source of competitive advantage that organisations may make use of within their strategic frameworks. However, within the organisational climate, there may be various barriers to creativity that will impede performance outcomes, efficiency and potential competitive advantage for an organisation. The study concerns itself m d y with an investigation into the strategic and organisational climates within selected higher education institutions in South Africa, as these institutions are in need of an assessment regarding potential sources of competitive advantage, in order to survive. The imperative to remain competitive is primarily due to the turbulent and changeable environments that these institutions find themselves in. This instability has occurred as a result of various changes in higher education due to the merging of several higher education institutions and the changes in the configuration of others. The study has shown that creativity is a source of competitive advantage. This was done by determining which barriers to creativity were present within the organisational climates of the selected institutions, as well as which strategic management approaches were being employed by the said institutions. The information obtained from the data gathered was compared to two competitive advantage measures (throughput and research output rates) of those higher education institutions. Three pivotal questions were asked and answered by the study in this regard. What are the prevalent prescriptive strategy dimensions and processes being employed by selected South African public higher education institutions? What are the prevalent creativity barrier dimensions that exist with selected public higher education institutions in South Africa? What relationships can be observed between the prescriptive strategy dimensions, the creativity barrier dimensions and the organisational competitive advantage performance output dimensions of throughput rate and research output in selected public South African higher education institutions? Non probability, judgment sample was obtained from four selected higher education institutions located in the Gauteng province in South Africa during the latter half of 2004. The survey requested certain biographical information on respondents (who had to fulfill the criteria of being full-time academic employees working for the institution in question), information on the strategic climate and barriers to creativity with the organisational climate. The last section of the questionnaire contained open-ended questions. Data on the throughput and research output rates of the institutions was obtained separately from the South African Department of Education (DOE), and correlated against the data obtained from the questionnaire. The questionnaire was testing for eight pre-determined creativity factors within the organisational climate (identified from the literature review and previous studies), and a separate dimension of prescriptive strategic planning. Overall only five of the creativity barriers were found to be most predominant within the selected higher education institutions, namely: Insufficient Resources; Lack of Team Unity; Lack of Organisational Support; Organisational Hindrances and Workload pressure. The factors were compared to the measures of competitive advantage and it was determined that there was a positive correlation between a higher prevalence of barriers and a lower performance output, which indicated that creativity could be identified as a source of competitive advantage within those institutions. This lent evidence to support the initial, first hypothesis of the study. Furthermore, it was discovered that those institutions that were utilising prescriptive strategic management approaches were more inched to achieve higher performance in terms of their throughput rates. Refuted the second hypothesis of the study that was advocating that emergent strategy was more likely to result in competitive advantage. More education institutions, known for their typically bureaucratic approaches might be more able to utilise formal procedures to obtain increased competitive advantage than utilising a more informal, emergent approach, as academic employees might more freely be able to explore creative alternatives under the security of prescriptive strategic approaches. It is likely that any organisation would wish to improve their competitive performance in order to be more effective. Higher education institutions also need to be concerned about their performance in order to continue operating effectively. It is necessary, then for those higher education institutions, to take note of these potential barriers to creativity with their organisational climates, which were highlighted by the study and to proactively remove them to ensure they remain competitive into the future. In addition, these institutions should consider which strategic management approaches they are currently utilising and streamline them to cement the competitive advantage. It was advocated that South African higher education institutions should be adopting formalised strategic management approaches in this regard.
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