Post-merger narratives in a higher education context
: (re)constructing identity

  • Melinda Drowley

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    When a small, specialist higher education institution merged with a large university, both parties declared an interest in protecting the identity of the smaller institution. This thesis is concerned with the discursive (re)construction of the post-merger identity of that institution. It is informed by an appraisal of the policy context and a critical review of the literatures of mergers and acquisitions; organisational culture; organisational identity; and organisational discourse and stories.

    There is a tendency within mergers and acquisitions literature to concentrate on acquiring companies; to adopt a managerialist perspective; and to measure success in financial terms. This research focused instead on the acquired institution. Eschewing a managerialist perspective, stories were elicited from all those most closely affected by the merger, including staff, students, senior managers and governors. This thesis seeks to offer insights into human experiences of merger; to identify grounded criteria for evaluating success; and to locate the merger within wider socio-economic and political contexts. Findings from the analysis of twenty-nine semi-structured interviews are presented as scripts for documentaries. Anonymised quotations from participants are interwoven with commentary from the researcher, to form new, plurivocal narratives. The audience anticipated is one familiar with the context and ready to engage with a scholarly approach.

    Conclusions are presented in an open letter to the Minister for Education and Skills in the Welsh Government. Discourses identified within the interviews are mapped on to a model which presents types of organisational culture found in universities (McNay, 1995). This opens up the possibility of accounting for the production and reproduction of the cultures, with their associated subject positions and forms of organisational identity. Lessons to be learned from analysis of the merger are elucidated, with a view to enriching the quality of debate about the future of higher education in Wales and beyond.
    Date of AwardMar 2012
    Original languageEnglish

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