A critical step in all benchmarking methodologies is “to determine what to benchmark.” Although benchmarking methodologies have been noted in the literature, the need has arisen for the development of structured approaches to determine priority improvement needs. The purpose of this paper is to provide a framework for determining improvement needs in higher education benchmarking.
The paper makes use of the analytic hierarchy process to develop a framework. The application of the framework is demonstrated through a case study.
The framework discussed in this paper is consensus-based, allows different viewpoints to be integrated, and promotes input to and ownership of the decision making process and its outcomes. The feedback of the participants confirmed the usefulness of the approach.
The previous research has established that determining improvement needs in benchmarking was mostly unsystematic and ad hoc based. And failures in precisely determining improvement needs can result in a lack of alignment between processes to be benchmarked and strategic priorities of higher education institutions (HEIs). The developed framework can help determine priority improvement needs aligned with the strategic priorities of the HEI.
Since continual improvement is an essential element of all quality initiatives, the framework provides a starting point for benchmarking as well as other improvement initiatives such as total quality management.
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