Managing in the Work Place
SWOT Components Analysis
Case Study: Arab Open University (Kuwait Branch)
There is almost no organization or business that can work as a closed system or in isolation because it needs to engage in interactions with customers, suppliers, its staff, technology, and the society. As such, it is important for organizations to analyze their internal and external environments for the purposes of making sound decisions on goals and strategies to be adopted. The SWOT tool comes in handy to shed light on key internal and external environments of an organization; as such it enhances business decision-making (Glanz, 2006). SWOT as an acronym, is a management tool that assesses the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats of an entity to enable managers to make critical decisions (Gilani, 2016). For instance, an entity can draw a SWOT if it is interested in determining whether to venture into a new business opportunity or whether the opportunity will be profitable or not. This paper critically analyses the four mentioned components of SWOT concerning Arab Open University (AOU), Kuwait Branch; a prestigious university college that provides excellently blended higher education programs (Aou.edu.kw, 2016). The institution has used its internal and external environment to survive and achieve success hence its SWOT components are discussed as follows;
The strengths of an organization include all those elements that enable it to achieve its targets or objectives, and they include employee or management capabilities, skills and competence (Saloner, Shepard and Podolny, 2001). The AOU branch in Kuwait is one of the parent branches that were established in 2002, and since then it has achieved tremendous successes attributed to its various strengths. One of the key strengths the university has always had is a competent management team that always ensure the learning environment is conducive for the learners and teachers. Currently, Dr. Naif Al Mutairi is the head of the Kuwait Branch, and he has been a key person to achieving the current status of the university. Then again, the university has embraced the latest technology that has boosted learning to another level. ICT has played a significant role to enable the university to have a digital school that involves an integrated platform for learning. Other key strengths of the university include; a diverse student body, many accredited programs, proactive student support, and a positive reputation in the society (Aou.edu.kw, 2016).
Weaknesses basically inhibit an organization from achieving its set objectives or goals (Saloner, Shepard and Podolny, 2001). AOU has not achieved perfection yet due to some factors that play as a stumbling block. One of the key element pulling back the university is the operational structure, which is mainly bureaucratic. Unnecessary bureaucracies lead to wastage of resources especially time. Then again, there is the slacking and sluggish response to needs of the students and the community. The university is also characterized by huge workloads that are not equal to the available faculty or staff. Furthermore, the institution experiences pressures of growth whereby both the internal and external communities have high expectations that are often overwhelming to the university. However, the University has shown the significant effort of turning these weaknesses into strengths.
Opportunities can be defined as the external elements the organization has to embrace or take advantage of in order to enhance its operations and as such attain a competitive edge (Mckeown, 2012). AOU’s Kuwait branch has the potential to attain more growth because of the various opportunities that exist. First, there is the increased demand for life-long learning opportunities and mid-career redirection that attracts students from in the country and the entire region of Middle East. Then again the social trends coupled with advances in technology are in favor of AOU as seen with issues such as increased value of complete higher or university or college education, general growing demand for graduates and parallelism of the societal needs and curricular content. Further, opportunities arise due to global initiatives and partnerships that support the university initiatives.
Threats are normally mistaken for weaknesses, but they involve those elements that have the potential to inhibit an entity from growing or getting profitable (Is SWOT analysis still fit for purpose? 2015). One of the biggest threats that stand to haunt AOU is the likelihood of a shift in focus on numerical advantage or achievement versus quality achievement. This is because most universities are now seeking to have numbers of students increase rather than providing quality to attract these students and AOU could be falling a victim. Then again there is the mentality that higher education is only meant to be a gateway to getting a job rather than imparting important knowledge and skills. Besides, there are various universities offering parallel learning services in Kuwait including Kuwait University, American University of Kuwait, Gulf University for Science and Technology, and Kuwait Maastricht Business School among many others (4icu.org, 2016). These institutions offer competition hence a threat to AOU.
How AOU uses the SWOT tool to survive and achieve success
AOU has greatly depended on the SWOT tool to survive and achieve a successful growth as an institution of higher learning. After identifying the external environment needs, the university is able to take advantage of available opportunities use them to succeed and grow. For instance, the high need of university education and high demand for graduates are key elements that the institution has identified in the past thus turning to offer a wide range of programs coupled with necessary facilities to meet the educational demands and supplant its rival institutions. AOU Kuwait has also used the internal environment analysis to enhance its rapid growth and development. The university has turned its weaknesses into strengths, for example, it improving its administration structure to offer the best school governance. Having identified flaws in its faculties, programs and teaching fraternity, the university has virtually improved in every internal aspect to reflect the status of a reputable institution of higher learning. Furthermore, internal and external environments have been used to enhance rapid growth of the university and meet the pressure by the surrounding society of a big and prestigious center of higher learning. AOU has been able to maintain its threats by prioritizing quality education for all plus a conducive learning environment. Through quality education, it is able to gain a competitive advantage against rival universities.
In conclusion, the SWOT tool reveals to be of utmost important to managers in various organizations in the modern era (Ctb.ku.edu, 2016). As seen from the case of AOU, SWOTs are important in helping managers make critical decisions and engage in strategic planning.
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