The effect of mergers on the psychological- as well as employment contracts in Free State FET colleges
De Wet, Elizabeth Catharina
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The present era in South Africa is one that is marked by substantial change due to unparalleled advancement in the field of technology, globalisation and competitive markets. These changes have placed new demands on the education sector in South Africa, especially further education. In 2000/1 South Africa's Further Education and Training (FET) sector has been rejuvenated through a process of transformation when 152 former Technical Colleges and Colleges of Education merged to form 50 multi-campus FET Colleges. The rationale behind this merging process is to curb the serious skills shortage which is threatening economic growth in this country through offering vocational education and training; and to raise quality in the education sector. This re-engineering process in education is founded on principles of equity, human rights, democracy and sustainable development. Change, however, is also about people and their ideas, fears, capacity and ability to stand and work together towards a more prosperous future for all. Transformation or change such as with mergers is dependent on employees' total commitment towards realising the organisation's objectives. High levels of organisational commitment tend to encourage loyalty, higher levels of productiveness and general job satisfaction. For change initiatives to be successful though, communication across all hierarchical levels is of the utmost importance. Management is expected to provide employees with just treatment, provide acceptable working conditions, clearly communicate what is regarded as a fair day's work, and give feedback on how well the employee is doing. Employees, in return, are expected to clearly show a good attitude, follow directions and be loyal towards x the organisation. The psychological contract is utilised to investigate the scope of change in an employment relationship. The psychological contract is a contract setting out mutual expectations between employer and employee - a contract that forms the backbone of any new relationship such as with a merger. The researcher makes use of the psychological contract (by utilising the Tilburgse Psychologisch Contract Vragenlijst (TPC)) to explain employer obligations; violation of employer obligations; employee obligations; relational/transactional contract values; commitment; intention to leave; and change perceptions. Should either employment party not fulfill its contractual terms in any way, the psychological contract will be breached or violated and the employee might attempt to balance the situation by reducing his or her job efforts, badmouthing the organisation, resorting to absenteeism or even petty theft. The worst case scenario in this destructive process is that the employee might leave the organisation. The purpose of this research study is to determine the effect (if any) that the mergers might have had on the psychological- and employment contracts in the four FET Colleges that have remained in the Free State Province. A cross-sectional survey design was used to reach the objective of this research and an English translation of the aforementioned questionnaire (TPC) was randomly distributed amongst the total population of 375 employees at the Free State FET Colleges involved in this study. A response rate of 53% (n = 200) was achieved. Results from other authors who have used the TPC Questionnaire in their research offer support for the validity and reliability of the scales used. The statistical analysis was carried out with the SPSS program (SPSS, 2006), a program that is used to conduct statistical analysis regarding reliability and validity of the measuring instruments, descriptive statistics, t-tests, analysis of variance, correlation coefficients and multiple regression analysis. XI In Article 1 the researcher focused on the effect of mergers with regard to the influence of communication on the psychological contract as a possible factor affecting the intention to qUit. A multiple regression analysis (with intention to quit as dependent variable; and employer obligations, employee obligations, and communication as independent variables) was performed and 22.2% of the variance in intention to quit is predicted by communication and employee obligations (F = 28.07, p< 0.01). A practically significant correlation coefficient (p < 0.01) of a medium effect (r > 0.30) exists between communication and relational/transactional values and between communication and intention to quit. In Article 2 the effect of mergers, workplace changes and the violation of employer obligations on the psychological contract were evaluated, with special reference to job satisfaction and organisational commitment. In the above article a practically significant correlation coefficient (p < 0.01) of a medium effect (r> 0.30) was found between • change and job satisfaction; • job satisfaction and: commitment, employer obligations, employer violations; • commitment and: employer obligations, employer violations; and • employee obligations and: employer obligations, employer violations. A multiple regression analysis (with job satisfaction as dependent variable; and employer violation, organisational commitment, and change as independent variables) was performed and 29.9% of the variance in job satisfaction is predicted by employer violations, change and commitment (F = 27.668, p< 0.01). Recommendations for the organisation as well as for future research were made.