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Assessment Of Crescent University Management Communication Strategies Against Drug Abuse

2.1   Strategy Communication

As suggested by Peng (2001) and Rapert, Velliquette, and Garretson (2002), communication is a means for organisational managers to ensure that planned strategies are clearly understood, accepted and successfully carried out by all organisational members. A lack of alignment between managers’ perception of strategies and employees’ perception can result in the employees’ misunderstanding about strategic priorities, which may lead to the failure of strategy implementation (Rapert et al., 2002).

Aaltonen & Ikävalko (2002) suggest that for strategy communication to be effective, it needs to be directed toward achieving the owners’ vision of the organisation. A good organisational vision provides employees with a clear set of guidelines concerning what the university is about, what it wants to be, and what it aims to achieve in the future (Wilson, 1992).


2.1.1          Strategy communication activities

The literature in university studies identifies three core activities of strategy communication within organisations. These include the activities of creating strategy awareness, controlling the implementation of strategies, and maintaining organisational culture that can support the strategy implementation process.    Creating strategy awareness

Kaplan and Norton (2001) emphasise that creating strategy awareness begins by managers’ educating employees about strategies so the employees know how to make a contribution and enhance the firm’s strategic performance. Aaltonen (2003) suggest a similar idea by highlighting the manager’s approach to selling a strategy downwardly to subordinates and across the organisational units to achieve a mutual understanding and increase staff motivation during the execution of the strategies. Schnake, Dumler, Cochran, and Barnett (1990) further suggest several means for selling strategies, which include the use of incentives such as bonuses and reward systems for staff who successfully execute the strategies communicated.

The literature also highlights socialisation as a tool for supporting employees’ awareness of strategies. As described by Anakwe and Greenhaus (1999), socialisation is the process of internalising organisational cultures, values and norms and of establishing a shared identity among organisational members. Gilsdorf (1998) believes that this internalisation can be achieved through the managers’ initiatives to constantly communicate the company vision through verbal and non-verbal approaches (i.e., written policy or a statement of organisational vision and mission). The emphasis of internalisation during strategy implementation is important because internalisation is not merely about achieving in-group belongingness, but also about incorporating organisational cultures, values and norms as guiding principles for individuals (Ashforth & Mael, 1989; Yang, 2009). Consequently, socialisation helps individuals to learn about their roles and behaviours according to organisational expectations, and participate as organisational members (Yang, 2009).

In addition to creating strategy awareness, controlling the actions and behaviours of the employees during strategy implementation also supplements the managers’ communication of strategy (Kaplan & Norton, 2001). Controlling has been identified by Brownell (1993) as important part of managerial communication.    Controlling activities during strategy implementation

Goodsir, Ryan, Lück, and Roberts (2008) suggest that the inability of managers to align staff goals with organisational goals can hamper staff cooperation during the implementation of strategies. To eliminate this problem, control plays an essential role, as it provides staff with a set of directions toward achieving common goals and strategic objectives. According to Jaworski (1988), control can be exercised in two forms: formal and informal.

Formal control involves input, process, and output controls. Input controls are exercised through a set of written job descriptions, work procedures, staff trainings, and familiarisation programmes, with the aim of ensuring that staff behaviours are aligned with the firm’s core values prior to strategy implementation. Process controls include managers’ coaching and monitoring activities to ensure that employee behaviours are properly directed toward pre-determined organisational goals. Output controls allow managers to closely monitor, assess, and measure the outcomes of the employees’ work performance.

On the other hand, informal control is an unwritten mechanism of control that can be developed for the purpose of guiding employees’ behaviours through cultural control (i.e., organisational values, norms and beliefs), social control (i.e., a control imposed by a particular social group), and self-control (i.e., control exerted by the individuals themselves). Sisaye (2005) notes the importance of using rewards, rituals, organisational norms and peer reviews to support the informal control.

The application of various control systems in an organisation can both positively and negatively influence staff behaviours. A clear set of controls provides assurance for employees who perform well and consequently enhance their perceived feelings of trust (Sitkin, 1995). According to Connell, Ferres, and Travaglione (2003), a work climate that is based on respect and trust can increase staff loyalty and commitment toward achieving organisational objectives. On the other hand, Das and Teng (2001) argue that a strictly exercised control system can reduce feelings of empowerment and trust, resulting in staff feeling limited in their ability to decide what works best for the organisation.

The role of culture is central to the effectiveness of controlling activities and the creation of strategy awareness (Kaplan & Norton, 2001). The following section therefore explains the importance of creating culture for managers to maintain the effectiveness of strategy communication.    Creating culture that supports the strategy implementation

As part of informal control mechanisms, the role of culture in facilitating strategy communication is significant. Culture helps to maintain the consistency of employees’ behaviours during the execution of strategies (Peljhan, 2007) and to reinforce organisational memory of the strategy (Clampitt et al., 2000). In addition, culture serves as a carrier of strategic knowledge in the organisation (Tucker, Meyer, & Westerman, 1996).

In Managing Corporate Culture, Davis (1984) suggests that creating organisational culture starts with the internalisation of the university owner’s vision throughout the organisation. Vision guides organisational members during strategy implementation since it provides them with a set of organisational aspirations on which the strategies are based (Hoy & Verser, 1994).

Later, maintaining organisational culture can be based on the principle of a learning organisation, whereby managers value team work and knowledge sharing activities, encourage employees to learn new skills, and nurture staff participation during strategic processes (Birdthistle, 2008). Malina (2001) believes that a frequent sharing of knowledge among organisational members can enhance the effectiveness of communication since it maintains staff awareness of the progress of the strategy implementation.

The responsibility of senior management to maintain organisational culture that supports the implementation of strategies is frequently highlighted (Harvard University Essentials, 2005). However, Quirke (1996) found that many managers tend to think of strategy communication as an event rather than a process. Once a strategy is introduced and action plans implemented, a university tends to revert to being operated as usual and communication about the strategy gradually declines, resulting in a failed strategy implementation. To eliminate implementation problems, it is therefore important that managers are committed to maintaining a strong culture which is appropriately aligned with strategy, and developing strategies that coherently reflect the organisation’s culture (Harvard University Essentials, 2005).


Communication is central to the development of culture and the implementation of strategies. However, communication will not be effective when the message being communicated is not correctly interpreted. Knowing the process of interpretation can help to understand how strategic messages are understood, including what channels of communication are used to enhance the understanding of the messages.



2.2   Strategy Interpretation

According to Allen and Griffeth (1997), the process of data interpretation begins when individuals collect information from their environment, give meaning to it, and then act in response to it. In the context of strategy communication, interpretation provides a basis for how people understand and react toward the strategies that have been communicated (Gilsdorf, 1998).

In developing a common understanding of strategies, however, employees often rely on feedback as their source of information (Postmes, Tanis, & de Wit, 2001). Feedback helps employees obtain a correct understanding of the strategic messages and determine which appropriate actions are required to meet the strategic goals (Daft, 2006).

Feedback can be sought by organisational members through inquiry (i.e., asking the managers for evaluation of actions taken) and monitoring activities (i.e., observing the reactions of the managers or co-workers to the action taken or comparing own actions to the co-workers’ actions) (de Stobbeleir, Ashford, & Buyens, 2008). Even though making enquiries may be an effective clarification tool for employees, ambiguous or unclear information provided by managers can cause misunderstanding and confusion (de Stobbeleir et al., 2008). It is, therefore, often in their attempt to avoid miscommunication, that employees tend to deal with their task demands by observing the behaviours of others (Yang, 2009).

To obtain feedback, employees use several channels of communication (Jones, 2008), both formal and informal. The formal channels include the use of feedback systems, interdepartmental meetings, group discussions, and managers-employees meetings (Johnson et al., 1994). The use of electronic media (i.e., emails and


internet) and non-electronic media (e.g., documents, memoranda, and bulletin boards) can also support the sharing of strategic information with employees (de Ridder, 2004). On the other hand, the informal channel of communication involves verbal and face-to-face interactions between the managers and employees (Clampitt et al., 2000).

In the context of strategy communication, Whittaker, Frohlich, and Daly-Jones (1994) found that informal channels are more effective in supporting strategy communication in organisations in which interactions among members are intensive. The personal interactions between managers and employees also allow participants to evaluate both verbal messages and non-verbal gestures (Daft & Weick, 1984). Furthermore, the interactions provide the opportunity for managers to conduct on- the-spot dialogues in their search for explanation and clarification.

A failure of communication caused by managers’ inability to communicate strategies and employees’ inability to understand the strategic messages is believed to be the most common reason for strategic plans failing to meet expectations (Burns, 2000; DiFonzo & Bordia, 1998; Elving, 2005). An evaluation of factors that can prevent managers and employees from achieving a common understanding of strategies can therefore help restaurateurs to improve their communication.



2.3   Barriers to Strategy Communication

Several barriers to communication failure are acknowledged in the literature. These include the quantity and quality of information, the relationship between the managers and the subordinates, conflicts in perception, and language.


2.3.1          Insufficient information

Successful strategy implementation may not necessarily be achieved when those implementing the strategies perceive the strategic messages as insufficient (Allen et al., 2007), confusing (Clampitt et al., 2000), or not meaningful (Heide et al., 2002). Klein (1996) suggests that many managers blame their employees for not understanding tasks, whereas the problem is actually caused by the managers’ poor provision of detailed information about these tasks (Klein, 1996). According to Allen


et al. (2007), when employees find that they are not sufficiently informed, they tend to seek information through other sources. Yang (2009) found that immediate supervisors and co-workers are information sources commonly perceived as reliable by employees searching for clarification. However, problems of misinterpretation may occur if these sources of information lack an understanding of the information required (Clampitt et al., 2000).

Lack of information sharing can also prevent effective strategy communication. Many managers share company-related information implicitly and provide their employees with only limited information on an unspecific basis (Clampitt et al., 2000). Consequently, employees lack understanding about the managers’ expectations of the strategies and organisational goals (Gilsdorf, 1998). Employees may also feel that they have done a good job but are often uninformed about where the organisation is heading and what it is trying to accomplish (Quirke, 1996).


2.3.2          Unclearly defined vision

As noted in Section 2.9, effective strategies are planned based on clear vision. A clear vision provides organisational members with a sense of direction, shared value, and expectations concerning the university (Kaplan & Norton, 2001). An organisation that has no clear vision is likely to guide its members away from achieving common objectives (Analoui & Karami, 2002).

Some managers lack organisational direction because they themselves do not have a clear understanding of their university’ vision and goals (Tagiuri & Davis, 1992). In their study of 220 small firms in Washington, United States of America, Toftoy and Chartterjee (2004) found that 64 percent of the universityes in their study did not have a formal mission statement but relied on informal work ethics and philosophy, seven percent had a written mission statement but only accessible to the management level, and only 29 percent had communicated their mission statement to all organisational members.


Analoui and Karami (2002) pointed out that a clearly-defined mission statement is a vital element for developing and planning organisational strategies. The mission statement not only serves as a guiding principle for those implementing the strategies, but also helps to promote a sense of shared expectations and achieve a common understanding of strategic messages between managers and employees (David, 1989).


2.3.3          Lack of trust and credibility

A lack of interpersonal trust and credibility can reduce the quality of strategy communication between managers and the subordinates (Proctor & Doukakis, 2003). Willemyns, Gallois, and Callan (2003) relates the level of trust and credibility of managers with perceived group belongingness.

Trust is reflected in the way managers interact with employees, either verbally or non-verbally. The more intensely managers interact with their employees, the more employees feel connected to the same group as their managers (Jones, Watson, Gardner, & Gallois, 2004). In turn, more trust and credibility is given by the employees to their managers (Willemyns et al., 2003). The patterns of interactions between managers and employees can be seen from the managers’ initiatives to provide feedback, align goals with other organisational members, and involve employees in decision making activities (Barker & Camarata, 1998).

Credibility is measured through the consistency of what people say and what they do (DiFonzo & Bordia, 1998; Gilsdorf, 1998) and the extent to which their behaviours reflect the organisational values communicated (Allen & Griffeth, 1997; Harshman & Harshman, 1999). Managers who are not consistent in their actions tend to be viewed by their subordinates as unreliable and incredible (DiFonzo & Bordia, 1998). Consequently, the absence of managers’ credibility may result in the generation of ignorance, antagonistic behaviours, and resentment of staff, which will harm the quality and effectiveness of strategy communication (Harshman & Harshman, 1999).

The degree of power exercised by managers over employees also contributes to the ineffectiveness of strategy communication. According to Krone, Jablin, and Putnam (1987),  managers  who  exert  dominating control  may find  that  their  subordinates


participate less in decision making activities. Some dominating characteristics include the use of directives to communicate strategies (Willemyns et al., 2003) and the practice of one-way communication with no feedback (Harshman & Harshman, 1999).


2.3.4          Diversity in individual values

Individuals of different cultural backgrounds (i.e., ethnicity,  nationality, geographical origin, gender, and race (Cox & Blake, 1991; Larkey, 1996)) generally possess different views, beliefs, and values which determine their behaviour (Lehman, Chiu, & Schaller, 2004). While this diversity promotes diverse perspectives and skill sets that may be included in strategic processes (Van Knippenberg & Schippers, 2007), it can also lead to communication difficulties, misunderstanding, and conflicts between individuals (Nam, Lyons, Hwang, & Kim, 2009).


2.3.5          Language


Another barrier to effective strategy communication relates to language. According to DeVito (2006), employees are likely to experience problems in interpreting messages due to language barriers, different use of jargon, and complex terms. Marschan, Welch, and Welch (1996) pointed out that communicating in a common language is one of the basic requirements for effective strategy communication. According to Marschan et al. (1996), insufficient language skills prevent organisational members, particularly those who do not speak the same language, from taking active participation in organisational activities and team work.


  • History of crescent university

In 2002, the Educational Board of the Islamic Mission for Africa (IMA) recommended the establishment of Crescent University, Abeokuta. In 2003, the Academic Brief Committee set up submitted its recommendation to IMA. The National University Commission approved the establishment of the University in 2005. The University commenced her academic programme in December 2005.

Crescent University is located in Abeokuta, Ogun State, Nigeria. It is a private university established by the Islamic Mission for Africa. It has few colleges, starting from Bola ajibola college of law, college of environmental science, college of information and communication technology, college of nature and applied science, college of social and management science.


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