Strategic Planning in the Public and Non-profit Sectors

Subject: Strategic Management
Pages: 6
Words: 1758
Reading time:
8 min
Study level: PhD


This essay presents an analysis of steps that are taken in preparing strategic plans. In this case, the analysis has focused on the 2012-2017 strategic plan of Texas State University Library. The main purpose is to analyze whether or not the strategic planning process of the library followed the standard steps that are often used during a strategic planning initiative.

The Analysis of the Strategic Plan

The first step in strategic planning is the development of the products to be offered to clients (barbu & Ionescu, 2012; Smith, 2013). In this respect, it is instructive to note that Texas State University Library has come up with specific products it plans to offer to its clients from 2012 to 2017. The products include scholarships, research services, academic engagements, learning materials, and partnerships in relation to spaces.

The second step of strategic planning involves the recognition of all the customers of an organization (barbu & Ionescu, 2012; Smith, 2013). In relation to this, Texas State University Library has not clearly identified its clients. However, it can be assumed that the main clients are the students who are admitted in the university. Failure to identify all the clients of the library makes it impossible to know the type of clients the library intends to serve during the strategic period, a situation that makes the strategic plan to seem insufficiently comprehensive.

The third stage in a strategic planning process entails the preparation of an inventory of what an organization has or is missing (barbu & Ionescu, 2012; Smith, 2013); this process incorporates a SWOT analysis (Yuksel, 2012). An analysis of Texas State University Library’s strategic plan has revealed that this step was not taken.

The fourth step is that an organization should develop a clear vision statement, which should show what the organization desires to achieve within a specific period (Smith, 2013). With respect to this, it is worth noting that Texas State University Library has clearly defined its vision statement, which is summarized in four bullet points.

Fifth step requires that an organization should identify organizational values and principles to guide its operations (Smith, 2013). Concerning this step, the library has identified and clearly explained its main organizational values to reflect the aspirations and intentions of its staff members.

The identification of goals for every product or service is the sixth step in a strategic planning process (Smith, 2013). The strategic plan of Texas State University Library has complied with this step, which is one of the most important components of a comprehensive strategic plan (Bryson, 2011).

The seventh step is the development of performance measures (Smith, 2013). As for the library, this step is clearly missing. It is apparent that the library failed to design measures that would have been used to determine its progress for the strategic period.

The eighth step regards coming up with all strategies to support the organizational objectives (Smith, 2013). In this regard, Texas State University Library has exhaustively developed strategies to achieve each of its objectives. The last step entails the design of assessment and monitoring mechanisms (Smith, 2013; Rainey, 2011). In relation to this, the library does not have any form of assessment mechanisms to monitor the progress of its specific strategic activities.


Even though all the steps in strategic planning processes are important to an organization, the analysis of Texas State University Library’s strategic plan has shown that most of the steps were followed, with the except of the performance measures and assessment stages. Therefore, I would recommend that the library should consider coming up with performance measures and ways of assessing the progress of its activities, especially when developing its subsequent plans; this will help the library in determining the most appropriate alternative strategies.

Strategic planning in a public organization is the process by which government agencies determine what they intend to achieve in the future while serving the public (Wart, 2012). Government agencies use strategic planning tools to prioritize initiatives, goals, resources and operational strategies of their departments (Wart, 2012). In this respect, this essay focuses on strategic planning in the public sector. The essay ends by examining the contributions of reviewed articles to the general literatures on strategic planning.

Strategic Planning in the Public Sector

Ugboro, Obeng and Spann (2011) have examined strategic planning as an effective tool that can be used in the context of strategic management in the public sector. Ugboro, Obeng and Spann (2011) have realized that the accomplishment of strategic planning in a public organization requires that a senior manager should play a dynamic role in establishing the strategic direction of an organization. The authors have further established that the effectiveness of strategic planning depends on the ability of a leader of a public organization to establish an environment that acknowledges strategic planning as an important tool of strategic management (Ugboro, Obeng & Spann, 2011). Lastly, the authors have also determined that strategic planning within an organization can be a very effectual tool in the supervision of environmental changes and the associated challenges.

This article has made an immense contribution to the knowledge of strategic planning in the public sector. This is shown by the fact that the foregoing authors have examined the tool of strategic planning beyond the framework of setting organizational directions, strategies and ways of allocating organizational resources. Instead, the authors have considered strategic planning as an important tool for strategic management, which entails the analysis of the major initiatives taken by the top managers of a public organization.

Nartisa, Putan and Muravska (2012) have studied strategic planning in the public sector. In their findings, the authors have shown that the strategic management and strategic planning in the public sector are closely linked to the overall concept and culture of public administration. The findings of the studies imply that since the government serves the community, it should take into account the values, needs and the changes that take place in the society when undertaking strategic planning. The authors have also distinguished two components of strategic planning: the management and budget components. The management component consists of specific mandates, while the budget component entails the assessment of the prevailing situation of a public organization.

Ayande, Sabourin and Sefa (2012) have argued that the public administration and public management have been undergoing radical changes for many decades. In this case, the authors argue that public managers play a very crucial role in ensuring that services to the public members are offered through cost effective strategies that reflect such changes. In their arguments, the authors posit that senior public officers have the responsibility of including the views of all the stakeholders during the process of strategic planning; this is crucial in terms of ensuring an efficient planning process (Peignot, Peneranda & Amabile, 2013).


It is worth noting that many researchers in the public administration have tended to focus on strategic planning processes in public organizations. The articles that have been reviewed have had immense contributions to the general literatures of strategic planning. The articles have shown that strategic planning is a significant tool for strategic management within a public organization.

Just like in the public sector, strategic planning is also done in the private non-profit sector. This implies that strategic planning in the non-profit sector is important as much as it is in the public sector. Therefore, in this essay, journal articles dealing with strategic planning in the private non-profit sector have been reviewed in relation to their contributions to the literatures of strategic planning.

Strategic Planning in the Non-profit Sector

Abok, Waititu, Gakure and Ragui (2013) have researched and written extensively about how cultures impact the process of strategic planning and implementation within the context of a non-profit organization. The authors have noted that many non-profit organizations have managed to come up with very ambitious strategic plans; however, the organizations still face implementation challenges. According to the authors, organizational cultures affect the way a non-profit organization implements its strategic plan based on the prevailing cultural practices within the organization. The cultures are developed according to the vision and mission of the organization.

This implies that strategic plans that deviate from the organizational cultures may not be implemented successfully. In this regard, this review process has managed to add the dimension of culture to the strategic planning literatures; hence, it has enhanced the development of the strategic planning discourse.

Clark (2012) pointed out that strategic planning in non-profit organizations is significantly different from that of the public organization. In his view, the clients in the public sector are all the citizens of the state. In the non-profit sector, the nature of clients is dependent on the mission of each non-profit organization. For instance, some non-profit organizations may deal with HIV/AIDS, others may deal with specific diseases and some organizations may deal with issues of orphans (Kumari, 2013). It is therefore shown that strategic planning in the non-profit sector has a lesser scope than the public sector.

Flores (2011) has also argued that the contents of a non-profit organization’s strategic plan significantly differ from those of a public organization. In his explanation, the author argues that a non-profit organization, unlike a public organization, is not tasked with the implementation of public policies (Flores, 2011). The organization is mandated to implement specific projects that donors have specifically accepted to fund (Flores, 2011).

Besides, planning within a non-profit organization is guided by organizational policies; this is different from the planning in a public organization, which is often guided by public policies (Flores, 2011). This implies that resource allocations in the non-profit sector are influenced by individuals or groups of donors; this scenario makes the strategic planning process in the sector to be substantially different from that of the public sector (Flores, 2011).

Newby (2012) also contents that one of the greatest challenges for a non-profit organization is to determine the most appropriate mission. The author also argues that it is sometimes very difficult for a non-profit organization to determine the most appropriate time at which its mission statement may need to change. According to the argument, this should make the strategic planning process in such an organization to be more difficult than a similar process in the public sector (Naab, 2012).


The reviewed articles have made a huge contribution to the literatures of strategic planning. The articles have explained how strategic planning in the non-profit sector differs from that of the public sector. Besides, the articles have also debunked the challenges that are faced by the non-profit organizations during strategic planning processes.


Abok, A., Waititu, A., Gakure, R., & Ragui, M. (2013). Culture’s Role in the Implementation of Strategic Plans in Non-governmental Organizations. Prime Journals, 1(1), 292-295.

Ayande, A., Sabourin, V., Sefa, E. (2012). Managerial Execution in Public Administration: Practices of Managers When Implementing Strategic Objectives. International Journal of Business & Management, 7(19), 55-75.

Barbu, A., & Ionescu, F. (2012). Conceptual Model of Marketing Strategic Planning Specific to Public Organizations. Annals of the University of Oradea, Economic Science Series, 21(2), 795-800.

Bryson, J. (2011). Strategic Planning for Public and Non-profit Organizations: A Guide to Strengthening and Sustaining Organizational Achievement. Bryson on Strategic Planning, 1(1), 30-62.

Clark, W. (2012). Introducing Strategic Thinking into a Non-profit Organization to Develop Alternative Income Streams. Journal of Practical Consulting, 4(1), 30-45.

Flores, N. (2011). Organizing by projects: A strategy for local development-The Case of NGOs in a Developing Country. Project Management Journal, 42(6), 45-56.

Kumari, N. (2013). Performance Appraisal of Selected NGOs Working In Ranchi District with Special Reference to Education and Development. Researchers World: Journal of Arts, Science & Commerce, 4(2), 80-90.

Naab, D. (2012). NGO-Diplomacy – Manager Diplomat. Munich, Germany: GRIN Verlag.

Nartisa, I., Putans, R., & Muravska, T. (2012). Strategic Planning and Management in Public and Private Sector Organizations in Europe: Comparative Analysis and Opportunities for Improvement. European Integration Studies, 1(6), 240-247. Web.

Newby, A. (2012). U.S. Civil Society Assistance to Egypt: Thinking Long Term. DOMES: Digest of Middle East Studies. 21(2), 320-355. Web.

Peignot, J., Peneranda, A., & Amabile, S. (2013). Strategic Decision Support Systems for Local Government: A Performance Management Issue? International Business Research, 6(2), 90-100. Web.

Rainey, H. (2011). Understanding and Managing Public Organizations. Winchester, Hampshire: John Wiley & Sons.

Smith, R. (2013). Strategic Planning for Public Relations. Journal of Development Planning, 21(6), 214-225.

Ugboro, I., Obeng, K., & Spann, O. (2011). Strategic Planning As an Effective Tool of Strategic Management in Public Sector Organizations. Evidence from Public Transit Organizations. Administration & Society, 43(1), 80-130. Web.

Wart, V. (2012). Leadership in Public Organizations. Leadership Review, 11(3), 321-336.

Yuksel, I. (2012). An Integrated Approach with Group Decision-Making for Strategy Selection in SWOT Analysis. International Journal of Academic Research in Business & Social Sciences, 2(11), 130-162.