Staff perceptions of the merger between two South African regional technikons
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 education.
South African Journal of Higher Education Vol. 21 (3) 2007: pp.485-502