In Search of Footprints of Technology Leadership for Innovation in Strategic Planning: A Study of Turkish Universities

In Search of Footprints of Technology Leadership for Innovation in Strategic Planning: A Study of Turkish Universities

Hande Sinem Ergun (Marmara University, Turkey), Fatma Gülruh Gürbüz (Marmara University, Turkey), Meral Dülger (Marmara University, Turkey) and Seray Begüm Samur-Teraman (İstanbul Kültür University, Turkey)
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 26
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-7769-0.ch005
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This chapter explores how technology leadership fosters an innovative technology mindset as manifested in Turkish universities' strategic plans which all show a general focus on technology. Using MAXQDA18 for conducting content analysis of these institutions' strategic plans, the study finds significant differences between successful and unsuccessful universities in terms of technology leadership for innovation. It also demonstrates the universities' outcomes as a result of their efforts in technology leadership and innovative mindset with specific regard to the context of emerging markets. Moreover, given that universities play a significant role in economic and societal development, this study offers valuable findings for policymakers, practitioners, and researchers.
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Considered a worthy investment, technology is transforming higher education, providing a global interconnectedness that reshapes educational, social, economic and cultural life (Brennan, 2008), and that enhances the quality of graduates and researchers (McRobbie, 2007). Moreover, with a global focus on technology, societies demand higher-quality education at a lesser cost (Guile, 2001). Similar to private businesses, universities are thus expected to operate more efficiently and strategically. In addition, the rapidly evolving ecosystem calls for higher education leaders to operate technology that generates innovative approaches to organizational processes (Graves, 2001; Weiss, 2010).

As a result, combining expertise in the use of technology and leadership skills to drive technology implementation is crucial to universities (Flanagan & Jacobsen, 2003; White & Bruton, 2007; Yukl, 2002). With regard to teaching, research activities, and administrative tasks, technology has revolutionized every aspect of higher education (Katz et al., 2004). Providing an educational pathway for technically trained students to advance and develop leadership/innovation strategies will be one of the essential building blocks of educating the next generation (Hurt et al., 2014). While research on technology leadership, especially in higher education, is still at a nascent stage and needs further research (Chua & Chua, 2017; Jameson, 2013), this chapter considers technology leadership in universities that is stimulated by strategic thinking that fosters technological innovations as an advantage to achieve strategic objectives.

Moreover, the impact of environmental variables such as the technology-oriented society, internationalization, changing demographics, inadequate state-provided resources, the speed of production of new information, increased costs and demands at national and global levels, coupled with growing numbers of universities, has led to a highly competitive environment for higher education institutions. Therefore, universities, too, are required to operate efficiently in order to compete with their peers, and they must adopt a strategic management approach to meet the demands of contemporary society (Papadimitriou, 2014). The present study adopts the Resource-Based View as the most suitable approach within the scope of strategic management literature to highlight the key role of technology as a resource in the context of higher education. As the Resource-Based View focuses on resources as a key to creating sustainable competitive advantages for organizations (Barney, 1991; Powell, 1992), this study assumes that in universities, technology and related innovations are the strategic resources for broadening and augmenting the quality of academic and administrative activities. Accordingly, this chapter explores the ways in which technology is utilized and excellence in technological leadership is achieved while considering the significant role of universities in societal progress and economic development.

Smith (2014) maintains that in order to become technology leaders and gain competitive advantages, universities must align technology with strategic thinking. Therefore, the present study hypothesizes that strategic plans reveal how universities perceive their internal and external environments and plan to organize their activities to address societal demands. Thus, strategic plans are believed to be reliable sources for understanding universities’ strategic planning. However, although the strategic alignment of technology and innovation in the corporate environment has been studied in depth (Chan & Reich, 2007; Luftman, Kempaiah, & Rigoni, 2005), there is limited knowledge on this topic in the industry of higher education (Lach-Smith, 2010). This study supplements existing research and fills some gaps by exploring institutional strategic plans to augment technology leadership and foster innovative mindsets in Turkish universities. Clearly, then, strategic plans are used to uncover the general focus of universities in terms of the degree of emphasis on technology and innovation.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Council of Higher Education (CoHE): The autonomous institution responsible for the planning, coordination, and governance of the higher education system in Turkey.

Foundation University: A university owned by individuals’ or companies’ foundations. Charges a tuition for access to education and offer extensive scholarship opportunities.

Entrepreneurial and Innovative University Index (EIUI): Prepared by the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TÜBITAK) since 2012, it ranks the first 50 universities in Turkey based on their scientific and technological research capabilities, intellectual property, cooperation and interaction, entrepreneurial and innovative culture, economic contribution and commercialization.

Technological Leadership: A leadership skill that requires both knowledge and vision of technology with the ability to envisage how technology might affect organizational dynamics.

Innovative Mindset: The belief that abilities, intelligence, and talents are developed leading to the creation of new and better ideas to attain organizational objectives.

Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TÜBITAK): The national agency that develops scientific and technological policies and manages R&D institutes, undertakes research, technology, and development studies.

State University: A university that offers free education as a public service.

Strategic Planning: The process where organizations evaluate internal and external factors and decide on methods to achieve organizational goals efficiently and effectively regarding time and budget constraints.

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