Records management for an intelligent university: The case of the University of the Western Cape
Momoti, Nikiwe Gloria
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Universities face complex changes such as mergers; new competitors; socio-economic; political and technological changes. In order to survive and preserve competitive advantage, the university has to adapt to such changes. The University of the Western Cape has been through many changes since its establishment to its current status as a culturally diverse autonomous institution with a mission statement that reflects its ability to respond and adapt to change. Universities that can adapt to changes are considered to be intelligent. Intelligent universities adapt to changing and unpredictable environments by organizing all information resources; transforming information to knowledge; and using this knowledge to enhance performance. Records are an information resource. They contain evidence of business activities of an organization, their management therefore is important. This study was undertaken to add knowledge and insight into records management in the intelligent university by investigating whether records management contributes to making the University of the Western Cape intelligent. Records management is a function within an organization, hence the researcher's choice of the functionalist theory to frame this exploratory qualitative case study. Secondary sources, semi structured interviews; and electronic questionnaires were used to collect data from purposively selected participants. The data was imported and analysed on a qualitative data analysis software Atlas.ti7, version 7.5.10. The findings of the study showed that records management as a function was not used optimally by the university due to limited knowledge and awareness of its existence; as well as other services it offers. Records management therefore does not contribute to making the University of the Western Cape intelligent. Marketing, training, strategic placement of the records management function on the university organizational structure, integration with other components, implementation of electronic records management and a records management model for the intelligent university were recommended to address short-comings. This study adds more knowledge on records management in the intelligent university and brings to light the importance of the records management function; highlights how university records can be used for competitive advantage as well as decision-making; and aids in developing a records management model for an intelligent university. A large scale national study in other institutions of higher learning to provide a clearer picture of whether records management plays a role in making South African universities intelligent is recommended.
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