Effective strategic planning in Australian universities: how good are we and how do we know?1

Tess Howes*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Strategic planning was introduced to Australian universities as part of the Commonwealth Government higher education reforms of 1988. The ‘Dawkins Reforms’ implemented extensive structural reform, changed executive leadership roles and responsibilities, commenced the ‘managerialisation’ of the Australian university sector, introduced the Higher Education Contribution Scheme and facilitated the transformation of Australian universities from collegial academies to modern, ‘enterprise’ universities. There is an abundance of published marketing material celebrating ‘effective’ strategic planning outcomes in the myriad of strategic plans published by Australian universities. Yet, a recent study indicates that strategic planning remains a contested internal leadership function in Australian universities almost 30 years after traditional academic planning was replaced with commercially-focused strategic planning. This paper will review the effectiveness of strategic planning practices in Australian universities guided by the rhetorical question: ‘how good are we and how do we know?’.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)442-457
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Higher Education Policy and Management
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 3 Sept 2018


  • Australian universities
  • Leadership
  • strategic planning


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