ABSTRACT This study aims to examine the implementation of strategic planning in kindergarten schools in Saudi Arabia. While the concept of strategic planning has been widely explored in educational settings, very little research exists on its applicability for early learning institutions, especially in transitional countries like Saudi Arabia, whose education systems largely benchmark on the successful experiences of the developed countries. This studyâs significance is linked to a need for an effective strategic planning regime in Saudi educational institutions to support recent educational reforms. The study delves into the obstacles that hinder adopting an effective strategic planning approach and explores how these obstacles can be addressed in a culturally sensitive way. While this study explores other factors like leadership and how they affect strategic planning in kindergarten schools, more focus is given to cultural factors that conflict with the principles of strategic planning as applied in non-Saudi contexts. Therefore, the study aims to clarify best practices that are consistent with the Saudi social context. Contingency theory is used as a foundation for the work, which allows the tailoring of aspects of strategic planning to the school and culture. This study employs a social constructivist paradigm using a qualitative case study approach. Data was collected using semi-structured interviews and focus group discussions to gain insights from the opinions and experiences of participants about the challenges of adopting an effective strategic planning approach to the issues of kindergarten administration. The findings of the study conclude that most principals know about strategic planning; however, they lack a deeper understanding of what it means as a concept. There are no specific standards and criteria for evaluating planning in kindergarten schools, and the inflexibility of senior management in decision-making is cited as a crucial issue. Disruptions of the strategic planning process occur due to Socio-economic and behavioural factors. Finally, the majority of principals in kindergartens state that they do not have previous experience in the field of planning. This study concludes by making some policy recommendations to the government and the Saudi Ministry of Education to leverage funding and human resources to the kindergarten sector as the bedrock of human capital development in the Kingdom.
- Keywords: Strategic management
- strategic planning
- educational management
- kindergarten schools
- Saudi Arabia.