South African Journal of Higher Education

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Staff perceptions of the merger between two South African regional technikons

T Reddy


As a result of political changes in South Africa in 1994, the Government of National
Unity proposed that the higher education system should be reorganised to address
past inequities. Subsequent investigations into restructuring the higher education
system resulted in a wave of mergers across the sector. The literature on corporate
and education mergers is consistent regarding the pivotal role of `people issues\'
during transformation and its contribution to the success of mergers.
Since staff are considered the cornerstone of higher education institutions and
essential to their continued existence (Fielden 1998), using a descriptive survey, this
study investigated staff perceptions of a recent merger between two regional
technikons in South Africa. A survey of various employee issues was conducted at
the newly merged institution, to investigate communication and participation;
motivation; job satisfaction and loyalty. Within the context of education, staff
perceptions on the impact of the merger on quality and standards of education
were also investigated. The current study is also documented as a case study, since
this was one of the first mergers implemented in the South African higher education
landscape. The results in this study demonstrated that poor communication, a lack
of participative decision-making, minimal staff involvement and insufficient
extrinsic motivation contributed to decreased job satisfaction and employee loyalty.
In accordance with the literature, it is likely that these perceptions were reported as
a result of perceived poor merger management and conflict between the merging
entities. However, significant positive factors identified in the study include
intrinsically motivated staff and a consensus in support of merger objectives and
educational benefits. These positive factors provide a substantial basis on which the
newly merged institution can build a new foundation to ensure that the regional
merger under discussion is indeed a successful merger in South African higher

South African Journal of Higher Education Vol. 21 (3) 2007: pp.485-502
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