Managing school division amalgamations : process and transitions
Reddyk, Mary Alice
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The purpose of this study was to describe and analyse, within the context of organizational theory, the process and management of school division amalgamations. Focusing on mergers and transitions and the management of change, the process of amalgamation and the management of that process were examined and provided a foundation to develop a broader understanding of the complexities and dynamics inherent in school division amalgamations, particularly from a Saskatchewan perspective. Based upon a literature review of corporate mergers and acquisitions and educational change, the conceptual framework which guided the study addressed school division amalgamations from the organizational perspective of planned and managed second-order change. The conceptual framework drew upon Levy's (1986) driving forces for change, House's (1981) and Tichy's (1983) conceptualization of change as occurring within and between technical, political, and cultural systems, and Bridges' (1986, 1991, 1992) iterative phases of transition--a human perspective. The primary sources of data consisted of 23 in-depth semi-structured and two focus group interviews. The data was supported by document analysis, nonparticipant observations and the researcher's field notes. The inductive method of analysis allowed for the identification of potential themes, questions, and emerging theories and assisted in the organization of the data both categorically and chronologically (Merriam, 1998). Several tentative conclusions were inferred from the findings of the study. The voluntary restructuring of school divisions to provide a full-service organization is a possible process to undertake. Organizations are constantly undergoing shifts and changes. In times of uncertainty such as school division amalgamations, it is important that an organization's components of mission and strategy, structure, and human resources be aligned within the technical, political and cultural systems of an organization. In addition, open communication, the timely sharing of consistent and accurate information and the inclusion of all interested stakeholder groups was key to maintaining the credibility of the amalgamation process. In particular, throughout the amalgamation process, increased attention needs to be given to human resource considerations, the integration of disparate cultures, and the three iterative phases of the transition process-endings, the neutral zone, and new beginnings. Furthermore, leadership, a key dimension of change, is fundamental to successful school division amalgamations, not only locally but also at the provincial level of governance. Lastly, because of amalgamation and an expanded and more divergent constituency, the roles of central office administrators, Boards of Education, trustees, principals, and teachers will continue to change and evolve. Based upon the findings of the study, implications for practice and suggestions for further research are discussed. A model of 'Organizational Perspectives on School Division Mergers: Planned Second-Order Change' was developed and presented within the implications for theory discussion.