Global Advanced Research Journal of Educational Research and Reviews (GARJERR) ISSN: 2315-5132

March 2013, 2(3): pp. 060-069

Copyright © 2013 Global Advanced Research Journals


Full Length Research Paper

Application of the value chain analysis framework to enhance understanding of competitive advantage at an Open and Distance Learning (ODL) Institution.

Ignatius Isaac Dambudzo

Zimbabwe Open University, PO Box MP1119, Mount Pleasant, Harare, Zimbabwe


Accepted 21 February, 2013


The study sought to investigate and develop an understanding of the competitive advantages at an Open Distance Learning (ODL) institution using the value chain analysis framework. Documents were the main sources of data. Literature has documented the utility of value chain analysis to help institutions determine the type of competitive advantage to pursue and how to pursue it. Two components of the value system were identified, namely, the industry value chain and the organisation’s internal value chain. The industry value chain comprised the value creating activities within an organization such as course development right through to the delivery of course offerings and related services to the learners. Five competitive forces were identified in every organization, including distance education as determining survival in the market. An analysis of such competitive forces was vital to reveal the organisation’s fundamental attractiveness, expose the underlying drivers of its profitability giving an insight into how profitability would evolve in future given the possible changes in technology, communication channels, emergence of substitutes and competitors. Organisations had cost differentiation, and also focused on competitive advantages to pursue in order to strengthen their position in the education market. It was against this background that a study of the Zimbabwe Open University (ZOU) as an ODL education provider was undertaken to identify its competitive advantage(s) in the market place as an education provider. The study revealed that ZOU enjoyed the advantage of being the only institution located in an education hungry country with state support that offered education through distance learning. However, competition from conventional colleges also offering parallel ODL programmes were threatening ZOU’s supremacy in the area hence the need to remain competitive. The study recommended that constant monitoring of the operations of the entire institution’s units, acting pro-actively to enable the institution to remain competitive by reducing operational costs, remain efficient and provide quality education to its customers. Further recommendations were made on what the institution could do to enhance its competitive advantage in ODL. The study concluded that value chain analysis framework could be used to understand the operations of an ODL organisation better when used as a monitoring instrument. Results from the study would inform strategic planners on the way forward to consolidate the university’s position as an ODL education provider and to look out for new opportunities in the market. 

Keywords: competitive advantage, value chain, organization, ODL, improvement, education, quality, monitoring.



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