The process of developing strategic plans in the public sector is regarded as one indicator of positive reform in the system. The assumption is that strategic planning ensures that (just like in the private sector) public sector organizations’ operations should cost less but deliver better service. Ultimately the argument is that public sector institutional governance and responsiveness to the citizenry is not only seen but felt. However, strategic planning has to be done in an appropriate manner for it to deliver. For instance an analysis of the underlying motives, the role of leadership in the process as well as the relevance or viability of the guiding strategic planning model significantly affect the nature of expected results. In the early 2000s, the Malawi public sector embarked on a serious drive towards strategic planning process as part of its reform package. In order to ascertain it’s potential to transform the Malawi public service, this paper focuses at critically analyzing the strategic planning process in the Malawi public sector by among other things asking: who initiated and led the process? What approach determined the process? What is the possible potentiality of the adopted strategic planning approach in enhancing the reform agenda in Malawi? Based on interviews with senior officers in key Malawi public sector institutions, the paper concludes that the strategic planning process is ‘transitional and fluid’ hence lacks the clout to effectively enhance reforms in this sector. Another finding is that lack of effective leadership has largely contributed to the status quo.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Price includes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Boyne, G., & Walker, R. (2010). Strategic management and public service performance: the way Ahead. Public Administration Review, 70, 185–192.
Bryson, J., Berry, F., & Yang, K. (2010). The State of public strategic management research: A Selective literature Review and set of future Directions. The American Review of Public Administration, 40(5), 495–521.
Bunning, C. (1992). Effective strategic planning in the public sector: some Learnings. International Journal of Public Sector Management., 5(4), 54–59.
Elbanna, S. (2013). Processes and Impacts of strategic management: Evidence from the public sector in the United Arab Emirates. International Journal of Public Administration, 136(6), 426–439.
Fard, H., Moshabbaki, A., Abbasi, T., & Hassanpoor, A. (2011). Strategic Management in the Public Sector: Reflections on It’s Applicability to Iranian public organizations. Public Organization Review., 11, 385–406.
Favoreu, C., Carassus, D., & Maurel, C. (2015). Strategic management in the public sector: a rational, political or collaborative approach? International Review of Administrative Sciences. doi:10.1177/0020852315578410.
GoM (2011). Malawi Growth and development strategy II (2011–2016). Lilongwe: Ministry of Economic Planning and Development
GoM (2015). Public service reform commission: making Malawi work. OPC: Lilongwe.
GoM (2007). Integrated strategic implementation (ISI) planning handbook. Lilongwe: Department of Human Resource Management and Development.
Hansen, J., & Ferlie, E. (2014). Applying strategic management theories in public sector organizations: developing a typology. Public Management Review. doi:10.1080/14719037.2014.957339.
Johnsen, A. (2015). Strategic management thinking and practice in the public sector: A strategic planning for all Seasons? Financial Accountability & Management, 31(3), 0267–4424.
Kayuni, H. (2013). New Public Management, Public Housing and Political Interference in Malawi in Zeleza Manda (ed) Malawi Housing Review. (forthcoming) Mzuzu: Mzuni Publications.
Kriemadis, T., & Theakou, E. (2007). Strategic planning models in public and non-Profit Sport organizations. Sports Management International Journal, 3(2), 27–37.
Msosa, C. P. (1998). Public sector reform: Malawi as a case study, paper Presented at the Eastern and Southern Africa Consultative Workshop. Tanzania: Arusha.
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, 6, 240–248.
Pina, V., Torres, L., & Yetano, A. (2011). The implementation of strategic management in local governments. an International Delphi study. Public Administration Quarterly, 35(4), 551–590.
Poister, T., & Streib, G. (1999). Strategic Management in the Public Sector: concepts, models, and processes. Public Productivity and Management Review, 22(3), 308–325.
Poister, T. H., & Streib, G. S. (2004). Municipal management tools from 1976 to 1993: an overview and update. Public Productivity and Management Review, 18, 115–125.
Poister, T. H., Pitts, D., & Edwards, L. H. (2010). Strategic management research in the public sector: a review, synthesis, and future directions. American Review of Public Administration, 40(5), 522–545.
Tambulasi, R., & Kayuni, H. (2013). Public sector reform in Malawi. In N. Patel & R. Svasand (Eds.), Government and Politics in Malawi, second Edition, (294–312). Lilongwe: Capital Printing Press.
Tambulasi, R. I. C. (2010). Reforming the Malawian public sector: Retrospectives and Prospectives. Dakar: CODESRIA.
Tambulasi, R. I. C. (2007). Who is Fooling who?: new public management oriented management Accounting and political control in the Malawi’s local governance. Journal of Accounting and Organizational Change, 3(3), 302–328.
Tambulasi, R. I. C. (2009). All that Glisters is not Gold: new public management and Corruption in Malawi’s local governance. Development Southern Africa Journal, 26(2), 173–188.
Ugboro, I., Obeng, K., & Spann, O. (2011). Strategic Management in Public Sector Organizations: Evidence from public Transit organizations. Administration and Society, 43(1), 87–123.
Vinzant, C. J., & Vinzant, D. H. (1996). Strategic management and total quality management: challenges and choices. Public Administration Quarterly, 20, 201–219.
About this article
Cite this article
Kayuni, H.M. Strategic Planning in the Malawi Public Sector: Potential Tool for Progress or Regression?. Public Organiz Rev 17, 373–391 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11115-016-0345-3
- Strategic planning
- Strategic management
- Public sector reform
- New Public Management