Recent public policy initiatives including deinstitutionalization, deregulation, decentralization, and privatization have resulted in: (a) rapid growth in the number of private not-for-profit organizations; and, (b) competitive environments. These conditions have forced agencies to examine their planning processes to determine if agency goals are appropriate for meeting market demands. An exploratory study of 154 human service agencies examined if and how strategic planning was used to respond to these conditions. The Chief Executive Officers for those agencies reported that strategic planning was replacing incremental planning as a preferred planning model. However, the choice resulted because of pressure from outside influentials not because of a perception of increased competition. Despite this, agencies choosing a strategic planning model were generally rigorous in its application. One-half of the sample reported a "major" change outcome for the agency as a result of the planning process but broad participation by stakeholders impeded substantial change. Questions are raised about using strategic planning when major change is not sought and/or broad participation by stakeholders is important.

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