ERG SES D 12, Institutional Frameworks in Education
Since the turn of the 20th century Danish educational institutions have become fewer in number and larger in size. This reflects a general development across the Danish public sector (Ejersbo & Greve 2014, Pedersen et. al 2008). Within tertiary education, this development is not specific only to Denmark, but can be observed in other countries in the Nordic region as well (Pinhiero et. al 2016, Kyvik 2013).
Organizational mergers are complex processes that involve working with change on the level of employees' personal and collective identification and culture (Giessner et al. 2016, Borum 2007, Seo & Hill 2005). In this perspective, it is the merger as a human process, not an economic, legal or administrative one, which poses the greatest challenge for leaders in merging organizations (Locke 2007).
The purpose of this paper is to investigate how the techniques that are suggested to an increasingly professionalized (Wiedemann 2016, Rennison 2011) group of public sector managers through manuals, guides and inspirational texts, position employees as objects of governance.
The paper aims to answer the following question: How are employees characterized as problematic subjects in merger guide texts for managers, and how are leaders equipped with social techniques to deal with merger situations in educational institutions?
Starting with a reading of a number of merger guides for managers in various education institutions, the paper identifies a number of distinct ideal typical notions of employee subjectivity: These four types are the skeptical subject, the exposed subject, the organizable subject and the enthusiastic subject.
Proceeding from a governmentality studies perspective (Dean 2010, Rose 1999) the paper demonstrates how a number of organizational techniques are suggested to leaders in order to handle various problems that arise in relation to these different subject types. The paper presents empirical examples from two studies of social techniques that are used in the management of merging institutions.
In the first example the paper will present and analyze three techniques. Here it will be analyzed how these techniques are designed to create a change on the subjective level of the employee as well as inform managers of the state of the merger process.
The three techniques are the “Check List”, the “TRIO Group” and “Merger Measurement”. Each of them takes a different approach to the management task of merging institutions, identifying different challenges to the process and proposing different solutions. The check list encourages the user to be self-critical and self-examining, using a list of suggested questions to compare their individual merger processes to others. The second technique is a stress-handling mechanism, in which three colleagues take turns sharing their experiences and reflect on the others’. The Merger Measurement is a comprehensive organizational set up that enables the leader of the organization to assess the state of the process through engaging with employees.
The paper's second example is built on interviews with managers and consultants who participated in the process of merging two vocational colleges. Through these interviews it is shown how leaders use employee participation as a management technique preventing passionate critique among vocational college teachers into becoming “political”. Instead critique is turned into a feedback mechanism. Thus critique becomes a resource for managers.
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