Forces in the merging of universities : a case study
Jacobsz, Johannes Marthinus
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Much change has resulted from pressures at a global level, which now impact on South Africa as a member of the international community. Some changes were dramatic and, to a limited extent, resulted in revolutionary transformation. Various problems were experienced in the higher education sector in general. Merging of some higher education institutions in South Africa as part of transformation seemed to be an obvious solution. This was welcomed by some, yet resisted by others. Various forces started to evolve in the merging process. Owing to one of the most important characteristics of a force, namely its directedness, it can only be perceived (visibly) in its psychological context. The first objective of this study was to conceptualise some psychological forces within the context of a merging higher education institution. The second objective was to determine the perceptions and attitudes of academic school directors, deans and vice-rectors towards the thematically identified psychological forces in a quantitative manner. The last objective was to make recommendations on how the psychological conceptualisation of forces could be utilised in the future development of the merged university in this study. A qualitative exploratory and descriptive design was used to identify items that could be used in a quantitative survey. The quantitative data collected were used to assess interrelations among constructs. Constructs consisted of items related to the force as well as the psychological domain. Cronbach alpha coefficients and factor analysis of items linked to each construct were performed to confirm uni-dimensionality. Practically significant differences between certain constructs were reported by using Cohen's d-value. A measure of sampling adequacy (MSA) was also conducted as developed by Kaiser. Variances were explained and communalities were also indicated. Regarding the first objective, it was determined that the government, council, management, students and alumni, culture, strategy, peers and resources were identified in the three psychological domains. Regarding the second objective, the results indicated the highest affectivity towards management and the lowest towards council; the highest cognition for management and the least for council; and a positive conation towards management and a less positive conation towards council. However, communalities lower than 50% were reported on the construct "conative towards council". It could therefore be concluded that, based on the identified forces and their respective links with the psychological domains, evidence exists of negative affectivity towards and limited understanding of council. The contrary, however, applies in the case of management, which attracted much affectivity, cognition and conation in respect of the merger. Recommendations are made for the organisation and for future research.
- Humanities