Original Research

The University of Johannesburg merger: Academics experience of the pre-merger phase

G. A. Goldman, C. Van Tonder
Acta Commercii | Vol 6, No 1 | a105 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ac.v6i1.105 | © 2006 G. A. Goldman, C. Van Tonder | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 06 December 2006 | Published: 06 December 2006

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G. A. Goldman, University of Johannesburg, South Africa
C. Van Tonder, University of Johannesburg, South Africa

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Abstract

Purpose of the study: The aim of this study is to gain an understanding of the merger experiences academic staff were exposed to during the pre-merger phase of the University of Johannesburg merger. Of particular interest is how these experiences translate into acceptance of the merger amongst academic staff. The study was borne out of the transformation of the higher education landscape in South Africa, which is typified by a spate of mergers between higher education institutions.

Design/methodology/approach: As the purpose of the study was, inter alia, aimed at understanding the merger experiences of academic staff, the study was conducted according to an interpretive research paradigm, where interpretation of data calls for an insider perspective, in order to "see things through their eyes" as it were. In this regard, a qualitative methodology was employed.

Findings: Findings indicate that academic staff members at the University of Johannesburg experience two distinct mental states during the pre-merger phase. Following the announcement of the merger, reaction and experience tend to be emotionally driven but as merging efforts become more concrete over time, this emotive state is replaced by a more rationally driven disposition.

Implications: The distinction between an emotive and rational demeanour during the pre-merger phase of a merger affords managers and leaders the opportunity to plan change interventions in such a way that irrational, emotive responses and behaviour do not hamper progress in terms of merger implementation. In a more general sense, this study highlights the process of transition individual staff members pass through as they have to come to terms with the changes brought about by a merger.

Originality / Value: The majority of merger literature, as well as change literature, focuses on the organisational context of change during a merger. Limited literature exists on the personal effects of a change event such as a merger. This study can thus contribute to the understanding of the personal effects of change during a merger. Furthermore, scant literature exists concerning mergers that are not driven by "conventional" economic motives. As the University of Johannesburg is this type of merger, this study presents the opportunity of gaining a better understanding of this type of merger.


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