Planning in Higher Education and Chaos Theory: A Model, a Method.Report as inadecuate

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This paper proposes a model, based on chaos theory, that explores strategic planning in higher education. It notes that chaos theory was first developed in the physical sciences to explain how apparently random activity was, in fact, complexity patterned. The paper goes on to describe how chaos theory has subsequently been applied to the social sciences and social systems, with mixed results. An application of chaos theory for strategic planning in higher education is then introduced in the form of propositions based upon the theory, including: (1) the ideal outcome of planning is planning, not a plan; (2) planning begins with a distillation of the institution's key values and purposes; (3) the widest possible universe of information should be made available to all members of an institution; (4) dissent and conflict are creative, healthy, and real; (5) linearity does not work in strategic planning; (6) the institution should budget for failure; (7) the expense of time spent on planning is an investment; (8) the executive is empowered, not minimized, by chaos-savvy planning; (9) that which can be quantified should not be overvalued; and (10) the future is a creation, not a prediction. (Contains 48 references.) (MDM)

Descriptors: Access to Information, Administrator Role, Chaos Theory, Conflict, Educational Planning, Educational Theories, Higher Education, Institutional Role, Models, Organizational Objectives, Strategic Planning

Author: Cutright, Marc


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