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Developing a quality assurance identity in a university: a grounded theory approach

Godson A. Tetteh (Regent University College of Science and Technology, Accra, Ghana)
Kwasi Amoako-Gyampah (University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Greensboro, North Carolina, USA)
Juliet Twumasi (GIMPA, Achimota, Ghana)

Quality Assurance in Education

ISSN: 0968-4883

Article publication date: 30 July 2021

Issue publication date: 27 September 2021




The purpose of this study is to demonstrate in the context of quality assurance (QA), how stakeholders define quality education and its connections to maximize value for the stakeholder using a grounded theory approach.


A four-stage research design using grounded theory methodology was used to develop and elicit a theory, after which a single-case study design with embedded coding and analysis was used to examine the QA – Maximize Value for stakeholder’s relationships. The sample consisted of 16 participants who had visibility over the entire QA – Maximize Value relationship, were knowledgeable, willing to participate and had between 4 and 12 years’ higher education experience. The data was collected through focus, elite groups and in-depth interviews based on the participants’ perspectives of their experiences. The collected data was subjected to content analysis. The following research questions focused on: definition of QA, the definition of quality education and stakeholders’ expectations for the education setting.


The study identified 10 categories that drive the QA – Maximize Value for stakeholder relationships in higher education settings. The categories are, namely, the definition of QA; definition of quality management; value for governing council; value for lecturers and staff; value for students; value for employers; value for government; definition of quality education; continuous improvement; and QA in universities. The main findings of the research related to “how” and “why” QA create value for stakeholders. The results of the study indicate that the governing council representatives’ (key stakeholders) expected value creation through improved management and proper education policy. The expected value creation for lecturers and university staff included career advancement, good working conditions of service, remuneration and the excellent performance of students. The paper finds that QA in higher education is contingent on senior management commitment to the strategic decision on overall objectives, management of the facility, financial and human resources, which are geared toward ensuring effective teaching, student learning and value maximization for all stakeholders.

Research limitations/implications

The limitation of the study is that the major stakeholders considered were all from universities. Other stakeholders such as employers from the industry and other sectors should be included in a future study.

Practical implications

Based on the study findings, two major implications for training of senior management, deans and heads of departments in the concepts of QA to maximize value for all stakeholders; and the QA system selected for the university must be “fit for purpose” were drawn, leading to recommendations for future practice. These findings can help universities to develop strategies that improve educational quality and maximize value for all stakeholders. The authors suggested some propositions that can be examined in-depth in future research endeavors so as to enhance the understanding of the predictors of QA in education and the expectations of different stakeholders.


The originality of the study lies in the perspective of experienced participants who had visibility over the entire QA –Maximize Value relationship and were knowledgeable. Based on the use of the grounded theory approach and the view of major stakeholders used in this research, the findings emphasize the stakeholders’ – driven definition of quality education that focuses on value maximization for all stakeholders. This is different from the majority of the existing definitions in the quality literature that are primarily standard-driven, focusing on meeting a pre-defined set of standards, specifications, requirements and are set internally or externally. The approach provides an opportunity to increase the credibility and rigor of grounded theory research.



Tetteh, G.A., Amoako-Gyampah, K. and Twumasi, J. (2021), "Developing a quality assurance identity in a university: a grounded theory approach", Quality Assurance in Education, Vol. 29 No. 2/3, pp. 238-258.



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