Situational Analysis – (SWOT)
The next step in the strategic planning for the ARAA was to undertake an environmental scan of the internal and external factors that were favorable and unfavorable to achieving the proposed objectives. The approach of outlining the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT) was used to provide an analysis of the critical success factors of the ARAA. A summary of the SWOT analysis performed is as follows;
- ARAA had adopted a unique model that deals with research administrator issues and seeks to breach the professional distance between administrators and other members of research teams.
- Support from institutional leaders: attendance at meetings and funding for association meetings, allowing participation.
- Cross-cutting (diversified) expertise among research administrators: IT, MBAs, MPHs, LLMs,
- Host institutions with many years of experience in collaborative research with established institutions in developed countries.
- Support and mentorship readily available from developed country universities.
- Existing research infrastructure in terms of facilities, equipment, personnel (investigators)
- Few Research Administrators trained to a professional level in research administration in LMICs.
- Extensive bureaucracy and red tape in the decision-making processes in local institutions.
- Poor state of information and communication technologies, for instance video conferencing, low bandwidths.
- Available grant opportunities targeting research administrators in LMICs for example IEARDA and others.
- Increased emphasis on capacity building for research administration.
- Exponential increase in funds dedicated to global health research in developing countries, implying an increased need for research management facilitation.
- Available technology for linkages and communication in most institutions are used predominantly to get in touch, with developed country partners (although little such linkages occur among African institutions themselves).
- Increasing numbers of a new breed of investigators who have different/positive regard for Research Administrators as key members of research teams.
- Possible linkages with other organizations supporting RAs in other geographic regions.
- Research Administration not commonly seen as an independent profession in LMICs
- Global economic slumps, if they persist over the long term, may reduce funding available for research.
- Uncertainty of future funding.
- The available start-up resources are not sufficient to cater to all the planned roll-out strategies.
- Owing to funding mechanisms of funding agency regulations, indirect costs (F&A) for African institutions are comparatively much lower than institutions in other geographic regions. This weakens the sustainability of research administration positions in these institutions.
- Lack of political and budgetary support for research and research administration from local governments.
- Competition for funding from similar research associations in other regions.
In summary, the strength and opportunities outweighed the anticipated threats and weaknesses.