Managing university records and documents in the world of governance, audit and risk: Case studies from South Africa and Malawi

Phiri, Mathews Joseph (2016) Managing university records and documents in the world of governance, audit and risk: Case studies from South Africa and Malawi. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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There are enormous benefits for any organisation from practising sound records management. In the context of a public university, the importance of good records management includes: facilitating the achievement the university’s mandate; enhancing efficiency of the university; maintaining a reliable institutional memory; promoting trust; responding to an audit culture; enhancing university competitiveness; supporting the university’s fiduciary duty; demonstrating transparency and accountability; and fighting corruption.

Records scholars and commentators posit that effective recordkeeping is an essential underpinning of good governance. Although there is a portrayal of positive correlation, recordkeeping struggles to get the same attention as that given to the governance. Evidence abounds of cases of neglect of recordkeeping in universities and other institutions in Sub-Saharan Africa. The apparent absence of sound recordkeeping provided a rationale for revisiting some universities in South Africa and Malawi in order to critically explore the place of recordkeeping in an organisation’s strategy in order to develop an alternative framework for managing records and documents in an era where good governance is a global agenda.

The research is a collective case study in which multiple cases are used to critically explore the relationship between recordkeeping and governance. As qualitative research that belongs in the interpretive tradition of enquiry, it is not meant to suggest prescriptive solutions to general recordkeeping problems but rather to provide an understanding of the challenges and opportunities that arise in managing records and documents in the world of governance, audit and risk. That is: what goes on in the workplace; what are the problems; and what alternative approaches might address any existing problem situations.

Research findings show that some institutions are making good use of their governance structures and other drivers for recordkeeping to put in place sound recordkeeping systems. Key governance structures and other drivers for recordkeeping identified include: laws and regulations; governing bodies; audit; risk; technology; reforms; and workplace culture. Other institutions are not managing their records and documents well despite efforts to improve their governance systems. They lack recordkeeping capacity.
Areas that determine recordkeeping capacity include: availability of records management policy; capacity for digital records; availability of a records management unit; senior management support; level of education and training of records management staff; and systems and procedures for storage, retrieval and dispositions of records.

Although this research reveals that the overall recordkeeping in the selected countries has slightly improved compared with the situation other researchers found a decade ago, it remains unsatisfactory and disjointed from governance.

The study therefore proposes governance recordkeeping as an approach to managing records and documents in the world of governance, audit and risk. The governance recordkeeping viewpoint considers recordkeeping as a governance function that should be treated in the same manner as other governance functions such as audit and risk management. Additionally, recordkeeping and governance should be considered as symbiotic elements of a strategy. A strategy that neglects recordkeeping may not fulfil the organisation’s objectives effectively.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Records, documents, recordkeeping, records management, governance, audit, risk.
Subjects: Z Bibliography. Library Science. Information Resources > ZA Information resources
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts & Humanities
Supervisor's Name: Moss, Professor Michael
Date of Award: 2016
Depositing User: Mathews Joseph Phiri
Unique ID: glathesis:2016-7506
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 09 Aug 2016 12:42
Last Modified: 31 Aug 2016 07:47

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