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The changing higher education landscape: Establishing a new identity during an institutional incorporation. Eduard Fourie Department of Psychology Unisa. ‘Unisa and TSA are the two elephants, they are making the love. . . and VUDEC is the lawn on which they are making the love’.

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The changing higher education landscape: Establishing a new identity during an institutional incorporation

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The changing higher education landscape establishing a new identity during an institutional incorporation

The changing higher education landscape: Establishing a new identity during an institutional incorporation

Eduard Fourie

Department of Psychology

Unisa


The changing higher education landscape establishing a new identity during an institutional incorporation

‘Unisa and TSA are the two elephants, they are making the love. . . and VUDEC is the lawn on which they are making the love’


Human resource implications

Human Resource implications

  • ‘People our greatest resource’ seldom appears to inform merger practices

  • Little attention:

  • reaction of employees

  • stress employees experience


The changing higher education landscape establishing a new identity during an institutional incorporation

Six theoretical approachesanxiety theory, social identity theory, acculturation theory, role conflict theory, job characteristics theory, and organisational justice theory (Seo and Hill 2005)


Social identity theory

Social identity theory

  • Social groups form significant part of self-concept

  • Individual to a greater or lesser extent think, act and have feelings consistent with group

  • Institutional identity – particular form of social identity

  • Associates with membership of a specific institution or unit

  • Strong identification with the institution generally desirable for the well-being of the institution and its members

  • a strong workgroup identification in the pre-merger phase may lead to negative feelings about the merger


Mergers alter employees identification

Mergers alter employees’ identification

  • Those from the incorporated institution – may go through a state of cultural shock (Stahl and Sitkin 2001)

  • Dysfunctional culture classes may lead to us and them dynamics

    (Giessner et al. 2006)


Longitudinal study into well being of employees

Longitudinal study into well-being of employees

  • 2004 - 2008

  • Unstructured interviews with 24 participants

  • Ages of participants between 35 and 60 years

  • Years of appointment varied from 1 to 18 years

  • Theoretical sampling – participants from governance (1), academic (12), administrative (7) departments, and HR consultants (4)

  • Individual & focus group interviews

  • Participation on voluntary basis


Thematic analysis

Thematic analysis

  • Inductive approach in identifying themes (Patton 1990)

  • Aim of analysis to proceed with coding of data without trying to fit it into pre-existing coding frames (Braun and Clarke 2006)

  • Or into my own analytical preconceptions

  • Acknowledge my own interest and experience provided ‘fore-having’, fore-sight’ and fore-conception’ (Heidegger 1962)

  • Coded extracts of data – meaningful groups – potential themes - thematic maps – thematic network (Attride-Stirling 2001)


Themes

Themes

  • Various themes came to the fore and were more evident during different stages of the four year incorporation process

  • Two global themes:

  • institutional culture

  • identification with the new institution

  • Divided into three levels

  • Individual

  • Group

  • Institutional


The changing higher education landscape establishing a new identity during an institutional incorporation

VUDEC: Family affair

Legacies, traditions & patterns

Institutional culture

Unisa: Us & Them

Communication

Management

Negotiations

Establishing new position

Support

Identification with the new institution

Impact on self

Unfinished business

Maintaining new positions

Current status

Future prospects

A thematic map of general, basic, and global themes


Institutional culture us them

Institutional culture: Us & Them

  • Difficult to leave the old and familiar behind

  • Personal experiences varied drastically

  • Phasing out of VUDEC’s programmes

  • Negotiating new positions

  • Valued new opportunities

  • Old loyalties remain

  • Incorporator institution more powerful

  • Difficult to become part of established work-groups

  • Constant comparison of the old with the new

  • Stormy history of VUDEC & transformation in the general higher education landscape

  • Speedy transformation on managerial level

  • Concerns about transformation on middle management and departmental levels

  • All role players are effected


Identification with the new institution

Identification with the new institution

  • Establishing and maintaining positions

  • Facilitated or hampered by various factors

  • Academics in better positions

  • Administrative employees intense uncertainty

  • Uncertain times, inadequate guidance and communication – not new to VUDEC employees

  • Getting use to new ways of functioning and new structures

  • the whole process was far more smooth than one would have expected

  • I’m still testing the waters

  • Vista is still with us

  • Acknowledgement that employees of Unisa & TSA are also influenced

  • Time will tell whether the new Unisa will continue to be a major role player in HE in RSA


Concluding remarks

Concluding remarks

  • Us & them

  • Racial and power relations

  • Sense of continuity

  • Communication

  • Accepting the changes

  • HE landscape & national landscape not stagnant


The changing higher education landscape establishing a new identity during an institutional incorporation

Only time will tell whether the divorce from the old and the re-partnering of the three institutions will lead to a successful blended family


References

References

  • Attride-Stirling, J. 2001. Thematic networks: An analytic tool for qualitative research. Qualitative Research 1: 385–405.

  • Bartels, J., R. Douwes, M. de Jong and A. Pruyn. 2006. Organizational identification during a merger: Determinants of employees’ expected identification with the new organization. British Journal of Management 17 (s1): S49–S67.

  • Braun, V. and V. Clarke. 2006. Using thematic analysis in psychology. Qualitative Research in Psychology 3: 77–101.

  • Giessner, S. R., G. T Viki, S. Otten, D. J. Terry and S. Täuber. 2006. The challenge of merging: Merger patterns, premerger status, and merger support. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin 32: 339–352.

  • Haslam, S. A. 2004. Psychology in organizations: The social identity approach. London: Sage.

  • Heidegger, M. 1962. Being and time. Trans. J. Macquarrie and E. Robinson. New York: Harper and Evanston.

  • Lotz, T. and F. Donald. 2006. Stress and communication across job levels after an acquisition. South African Journal of Business Management 37 (1): 1–8.

  • Nalbantien, H. R., R. A. Guzzo, D. Kieffer and J. Doherty. 2005. Making acquisitions work. Journal of Organizational Excellence 24 (2): 45–52.

  • Patton, M. Q. 1990. Qualitative evaluation and research methods. 2nd ed. Thousand Oaks: Sage.

  • Schuler, R. and S. Jackson. 2001. HR issues and activities in mergers and acquisitions. European Management Journal 19 (3): 239–253.

  • Seo, M.-G. and N. S. Hill 2005. Understanding the human side of merger and acquisition: An integrative framework. Journal of Applied Behavioral Science 41: 422–443.

  • Stahl, G. K. and S. B. Sitkin. 2001. Trust in mergers and acquisitions. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Academy of Management, Washington, D.C.

  • Tajfel, H. and J. C. Turner. 1986. The social of identity theory of intergroup behaviour. In Psychology of intergroup relations, ed. S. Worchel and W. G. Austin, 7–24. Chicago: Nelson.

  • Van Dick, R. 2001. Identification and self-categorization processes in organizational contexts: Linking theory and research from social and organizational psychology. International Journal of Management Reviews 3: 265–283.

  • Van Dick, R., J. Ullrich and P. A. Tissington. 2006. Working under a black cloud: How to sustain organizational identification after a merger. British Journal of Management 17 (s1): S69–S79.


Thank you eduard fourie fourime@unisa ac za

Thank youEduard [email protected]


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