The Determination and Implementation of Strategic Objectives in Higher Education: The Balanced Scorecard as a Performance Management Framework for Higher Education in Cameroon

Research summary

The research is done in towards a doctoral dissertation. The study is focused on the Cameroon higher education system. The objective is to identify the strategic objectives of higher education in Cameroon; how they are determined and implemented at the system and institutional levels. The balanced scorecard (BSC) approach will then be used to show how the determination and implementation and evaluation of strategic objectives can be facilitated by the BSC approach.The endpoints would be to:
-Highlight the feasibility of the BSC approach to the Cameroonian higher education
-Determine the structural capacity of the Cameroonian Higher Education System to use the BSC in determining, implementing and evaluating its strategic objectives.
-Outline a System and Institutional BSC for Cameroon based on the data from interviews and document reviews.
To achieve this, policy document reviews and qualitative semi-structured interviews are conducted with policy makers and then one higher education institution.


Over the last three decades, higher education has been challenged by shrinking funding. Underlying much of the global austerity in higher education is the surging demand of the past four decades. Nearly all national higher education systems have grown dramatically since the mid- and late 60s.They have grown in sheer numbers as well as cohort of participation. In most low- and middle income countries, the combination of high birth rates and plus increasing percentages of these increasing numbers completing secondary education and aspiring to higher education is creating massive demand pressure on higher education. And the trajectory of these increasing numbers and their increasing costs is, in almost all countries far exceeding the likely trajectory of increasing tax-generated revenues (Johnstone, B., in GUNI, 2006, p.121).This phenomena are exacerbated by, diversity and multiplicity of goals, demands and expectations. There are traditional expectations to widen access, provide citizen education, improve social inclusion and human capital for national development. Besides, globalisation and changes in the structure of the global economy have brought new pressures to bear on higher education systems. For instance, there are pressures to provide better quality education and research, high-ranking and attractive institutions for hubs of innovation and the competitiveness of nations.
At the same time, the university whose role was previously less questionable is more than ever before, called upon to prove or improve its contributions to regional and national development. Higher Education today is in a tension between such local and global missions. The surging responsibilities lead to the necessity for innovative funding mechanisms (amidst shrinking funding!) to render universities more efficient and responsive to both their traditional and new roles/demands. Pursuant to the foregoing, governments and funding agencies are increasingly becoming strategic, cost and efficiency-conscious as well as result-oriented in the funding of higher education. While most industrialised and developed countries are increasingly shifting towards some form of performance-based funding (Eurydice, 2008) it is important to examine the efforts of some developing countries to speed up their urgent objectives with financial incentives. Higher education has shifted from a position based on individuals who learn to corporatist structures based on individuals who teach or administrate (Escotet, M.A. in GUNI, 2006, p.126). In order to advance performance, there is the need to manage performance rather than simply measure any given part aspect of it across the board.
Performance management has been common practice in the private sector for a long time. Because its purpose was financial control and reporting it had excessive financial focus with only tenuous links to strategic plans and operations. But in the turbulent and globalised environment The balance scorecard is a composite measure of four dimensions or aspects of company’s performance: financial, customer, internal business process, and learning and growth performance. At any point in time, these characterize the current status and future potential of any given organization. According to Kaplan (2001) the balanced scorecard can be applied to not-for-profit and any other government agency. Through the years, the balanced scorecard has evolved from the original measurement tool (Kaplan & Norton, 1992) to a possible instrument for implementing strategies (1996) and a framework for determining the alignment of an organisation’s resources with its strategy (2004).This shift has prompted the balance scorecard as a strategic communication and management system thus placing considerable weight on several implementation issues not previously documented in the literature. Papalexandris et al. (2005) reminds that the composite measure that uses the perspectives suggested by Kaplan & Norton (1992) is expected to foster a desired balance in the following respects:
-Short and long-term objectives
-Between preferred (lag performance measures) and performance drivers (lead performance measures)
-Between quantitative-objective measures and qualitative-subjective measures.
However, the balanced scorecard does not come without its own drawbacks. Norreklit (2000) questions the chain of causes and results among elements of the score-card. Papalexandris et al.(2005) point out that balanced scorecard pays little attention to different critical supporting factors such as change management, QA, IT infrastructure development and risk management which are critical for the successful implementation of a balanced scorecard. Consistent with this criticism is the view of Bontis et al.(1999, p.397) that the BSC is relatively rigid in that the perspectives drive the identification of success factors and there would be a tendency to miss important success factors which do not fall neatly into any of the categories. The bearing of this study is to provide one in which higher education can adapt to and respond to the ever dynamic higher education landscape. It takes the Cameroon higher education as a starting point.

Research info

Research title
The Determination and Implementation of Strategic Objectives in Higher Education: The Balanced Scorecard as a Performance Management Framework for Higher Education in Cameroon

Research timeline
1.3.2010 - 1.12.2014

Balanced Scorecard Cameroon higher education. Performance Management Strategic objectives Strategic planning


Cameroon, Finland

University of Turku
Research Unit for the Sociology of Education
Turku, Finland

Head of research
Prof. Osmo Kivinen

Research team
Bilola Theresia S.Doh

Contact information
Bilola Theresia S. Doh
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