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Title: How do we know who we are when the dust settles? : the experience of organisational identity formation post-merger
Author: Lansdell-Zandvoort, I.
ISNI:       0000 0004 7656 972X
Awarding Body: University of Liverpool
Current Institution: University of Liverpool
Date of Award: 2019
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Poorly planned and executed merger integrations may result in destroying intrinsic value associated with a highly identified workforce, due to an inability to foster post-merger identification during the integration phase (Riketta, 2005; Dukerich, Goldenm, and Shortell, 2002). This, together with the notion that the way in which employees interpret and enact the merger ultimately shapes and realise the intended merger (Guitte and Vandenbempt, 2013; Balogun and Johnson, 2005; 2004; Balogun, 2006), reinforces the call for leaders to pro-actively consider both the 'hard' and 'soft' elements of a merger integration (Giessner, Ullrich and van Dick, 2011; Mc Donald, Coulthard, and de Lang, 2005). This research set out to understand and explore how a merger integration experience affects the way members of a legacy client services organisation, identify and engage with the new post-merger organisation, in order to enhance the merger integration process. I positioned this study as a longitudinal internal action research project that adopts a three-stage conceptual research process model, which allows for the meditation of theory and practice components, in order to deliver theory-practice linkages (Tenkasi and Hay, 2004) over a 3.5-year period. The project execution phase embraces an interpretative phenomenology approach (Van Manen, 1990), whilst also involving employees in the co-construction of the research by incorporating co-operative inquiry group meetings and collaborative management research practices (Canterino, Shani, Coghlan and Brunelli, 2016). Quantitative data stemming from three annual Employee Engagement Survey responses further augment the qualitative data gathered. The outcome of the first action research cycle, i.e. a conceptual process model that illustrates the cyclical journey employees experienced during the merger, as well as nine phenomenological themes emerging from the qualitative data analysis, which provides a rich description of the essence of the shared experience, informed the collaborative approach in the second action research cycle. The latter resulted in more subtle influencing activities, as the research steered the organisation towards a collaborative organisational development approach, and highlights my own journey as a self-perceived marginalised employee-researcher, towards an empowered peripheral insider-researcher. I contribute to actionable knowledge by proposing two conceptual models aimed at assisting leaders to better plan and execute merger integrations. The first model suggests the need for leaders to view a merger integration as a system of three inter-related cycles, with each cycle representing a specific state of sensemaking, and emotions, associated with the fluid process of identification, and, as such, each requiring specific actions to enhance the merger experience through facilitated identification and engagement. The second constitutes a four-level merger integration model for leaders, suggesting specific leadership attributes behaviours and actions needed to support successful and sustainable merger integrations. Furthermore, the study also supports and builds on the extant literature, in the areas of organisational identity, merger and acquisition and sensemaking.
Supervisor: Morales, Lucia Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.B.A.) Qualification Level: Doctoral