Mergers in Higher Education: A Case Study of Organizational Culture, Communication, and Conflict Management Strategies in the University System of Georgia
Date of Submission
Doctor of Philosophy in International Conflict Management (Ph.D. INCM)
Dr. Darina Lepadatu
Dr. May Gao
Dr. Douglas Moodie
By 2018, the University System of Georgia will have 18 institutions merged with each other. This qualitative case study focuses on how organizational culture, communication strategies, and conflict management strategies affect a merger in higher education in the state of Georgia. This study attempts to answer the following questions: How is organizational culture preserved and/or changed in the process of consolidation? How was information about consolidation communicated to various group of people? How do various groups of people make sense of the information provided regarding consolidation? What aspects of consolidation generated the most conflicts? What conflict management strategies were adopted by administrators and faculty leaders in order to solve conflicts during consolidation? Based on 35 in-depth interviews with faculty, staff, and administrators, the study reveals how new organizational cultures emerge, how to manage different types of conflicts, and how to make sense of organizational changes during the complex situations of mergers in higher education. The results show how organizational culture, communication, and conflict management strategies are closely connected with each other, and can have a major impact on the merger process in higher education. The findings of this study may have policy implications, and provide guidance to future institutions and decision makers who are considering mergers in higher education.