Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Strategically Bridging the Private-Public Gap

In one of this week’s class articles, Kaplan and Beinhocker explore the idea of formal strategic planning as a business norm that may provide more harm than good. As a time-consuming and often overridden process, the legitimacy of such a practice may be quickly dismissed. While this is often the case when applied to corporate settings, a recent Wall Street Journal article illuminates the possibility that public entities and communities may play a more concrete role when offering their two cents to University expansion, an endeavor that often directly affects its surrounding elements in a variety of ways. 

Athavalev’s article "Cornell Set to Lay Out Campus Plans" outlines developments that are occurring at the University, as it attempts to implement an expansion strategy in the form of a new applied sciences building on Roosevelt Island. This plan may not more forward, however, without the approval of the city’s planning committee. In this case we see the government playing a direct role in the implementation of the University’s strategy, first as the generator of the city-wide development plan contest (an opportunity won by Cornell), and second as the approver of subsequent development plans. While the campus may have its own pre-determined priorities and goals, it is not without a formal and separate “okays” that they may finally move ahead with their game-changing development plan.

Traditionally, as a private academic institution Cornell would rely on the more informal advice of shareholders and donors to the University (who are typically the suppliers of the revenue essential to expansion projects), but this presents a particularly unique case in which the community perspective must be equally taken into account. As a result, it is likely that this factor will play a distinct role in Cornell’s submitted expansion plan. Designating the surrounding community and city planning committee as two relevant shareholders, Cornell is insuring themselves against a possible loss of control or a strategy-altering change in the development process.

As a major component of the University’s outreach and expansion, the decisions made in relation to the new physical building are sure to affect the University’s perception and future success as a whole. Therefore, it is essential that Cornell resist the urge to dismiss outside input into their campus developments and take the interests of the community into account when submitting their final proposal. Echoing the ideas presented in this week’s article entitles “Your Strategy Needs a Strategy”, Cornell must alter their shortsighted strategy to successfully achieve the goals outlined in their long-term strategy.

Source: Athavaley Anjali. “Cornell Set to Lay Out Campus Plans”. Wall Street Journal: New York Section. Web. Published 14 October 2012. Accessed 31 October 2012.

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