An assessment of the nature and extent of adoption of strategic planning processes in the public sector : A case study of Zambia
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The adoption of strategic planning in the public sector has become common place. However, its adoption by the Zambian public sector has never been subjected to critical evaluation. The aim of this research was to investigate the nature and extent of adoption of strategic planning processes in the Zambian public sector. This research used a combination of qualitative and quantitative methods and was based on a multiple case study approach. The qualitative research used semi-structure interviews and documentary review on thirteen government ministries with the resulting data being analysed using content analysis. The quantitative research used a self-completion questionnaire on sixteen government ministries. The findings suggest an increase in the comprehensiveness and inclusiveness of strategic planning processes of the Zambian public sector. However, challenges were evident in a number of areas including; integration of organisational processes, harmonisation of strategic planning processes, completeness of the process, use of strategy tools and participation of operational staff and external stakeholders. Barriers established included; financial and human resource challenges, inadequate process alignment, inadequate enforcement mechanisms, inappropriate work culture, political interference, inadequate inter-ministerial coordination, inadequate communication of strategic plans and inadequate strategic planning knowledge among staff. The findings of this research provide an important contribution by adding the Zambian perspective to the strategic management literature which, at the time of the study, had not been documented and subjected to critical review. A further important contribution is in the provision of a set of practical guidelines to assist public managers in optimising their use of strategic planning.