Porter’s five competitive forces framework and other factors that influence the choice of response strategies adopted by public universities in Kenya

Francis M. Mathooko (Department of Food Science and Technology, Machakos University College, Machakos, Kenya)
Martin Ogutu (Department of Business Administration, University of Nairobi, Nairobi, Kenya)

International Journal of Educational Management

ISSN: 0951-354X

Publication date: 13 April 2015



The purpose of this paper is to establish the extent to which Porter’s five competitive forces (PFCF) framework, among other factors drive the choice of response strategies adopted by public universities in Kenya.


The study design was descriptive and utilized a cross-sectional survey of all the public universities in Kenya by administering a structured questionnaire to the top management team. Additional primary data were collected through observations and interviews. Secondary data were also collected in order to corroborate the data collected from the primary sources.


PFCF framework influenced the choice of response strategies adopted by the public universities “to a great extent”, the most influence being the threat from new entrants. The influence of the choice of response strategies by PFCF framework was independent of the age and category of the universities. Pressure from stakeholders, changes in government policies and regulations, reforms in higher education, unethical response strategies by some universities and university location also influenced the choice of response strategies.

Research limitations/implications

The study collected data from the top management team only; however, other stakeholders could have given additional information not reported here. Further, the research only considered public universities and not all higher education institutions (HEIs) in Kenya, and was cross-sectional, hence generalization and application of the results over a long time, respectively, may be limited.

Practical implications

The value of this study lies in HEIs achieving a competitive advantage and shaping strategic policy direction in the face of changing environment and global commodification of higher education.


Current public universities in Kenya have adopted a business-like approach in their operations in view of changing environment and have adopted coping strategies. Therefore, understanding the factors that influence the choice of response strategies is important for improvement of quality, efficiency and effectiveness as well as in policy formulation and serve as a guide to strategic management.



This research was funded from personal resources as a partial requirement for the award of a Master of Business Administration to the first author.


Mathooko, F.M. and Ogutu, M. (2015), "Porter’s five competitive forces framework and other factors that influence the choice of response strategies adopted by public universities in Kenya", International Journal of Educational Management, Vol. 29 No. 3, pp. 334-354. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJEM-12-2013-0187

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