23 SES 07 C, The Rationality of Merging in Further and Higher Education
In the period since the early 1990’s a general tendency can be observed across multiple sectors in Danish public service. Through a number of institutional reforms, organizations have merged and thereby grown in size (Aagaard et al. 2016, Pedersen 2008). This tendency can be identified in organizations in both secondary and tertiary education (Wiedemann 2016). The paper explores the arguments that legitimize reforms using mergers as a tool to create more efficient institutions.
In much research literature, organizational mergers are known to be difficult processes that can be stressful for the involved parties and often do not deliver on the expectation of efficiency gains that motivated them (Geissner 2016, Seo & Hill 2005). Similar descriptions can be found in the literature centered on public service institutions. (Borum & Pedersen 2008, Locke 2007). Much seems to be at risk when deciding to merge, so the question becomes: why risk it?
Starting from a case study of two vocational colleges that have merged over the last couple of years, the paper analyzes two decades of policy papers that outline education reform. The paper seeks to answer the following question:
How are mergers rationalized as solutions to problems in educational policy and what are the consequences for educational organizations?
Inspired by the post-Foucauldian tradition of governmentality studies (Dean 2010, McKee 2009, Rose 1999) as well as policy analysis (Bacchi 2012, Ball 1993) the purpose of the paper is to contextualize the case study by mapping the rationalities present in the policy papers. The paper does this through a reading of policy documents in which mergers are suggested as a means of reform. The focus is on the period between the mid 1990’s and until the late 2000’s, a period which saw the biggest wave of reorganization through mergers in recent Danish history.
This development is not specific to Denmark, but can be observed in other Nordic Countries as well (Pinhiero et al. 2016, Kyvik 2013, Skodvin 1999). This transnational dimension will be pursued through a reading of OECD evaluations of Danish institutional structures.
Aagaard, Kaare, Hanne Foss Hansen & Jørgen Gulddahl Rasmussen (2016): Different Faces of Danish Higher Education Mergers, in Pinhiero et. al (2016):Mergers in Higher Education - The Experience from Northern Europe, Pinheiro, Rómulo, Geschwind, Lars, Aarrevaara, Timo (Eds.), Springer Bacchi, C. (2012): Why Study Problematizations? Making Politics Visible, in Open Journal of Political Science, Vol. 2, No. 1 Ball, Stephen J. (1993): What is Policy: Texts, Trajectories and Toolboxes, in Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education, Vol. 13 (2), 10-17 Borum, Finn & Anne Relf (2007): Fusioner, ledelse og fortællinger- Integration og polyfoni i det danske sundhedsvæsen, Børsens Forlag Dean, Mitchell (2010): Governmentality – Power and Rule in Modern Society, Los Angeles: SAGE Publications Foucault, Michel (1982): The Subject and Power, in Critical Inquiry, Vol. 8 (4), 777-795 Giessner, Steffen R., Kate E. Horton, Sut I Wong Humborstad (2016): Identity Management during Organizational Mergers: Empirical Insights and Practical Advice, in Social Issues and Policy Review, Vol. 10(1), 47—81 Kyvik, Svein & Bjørn Stensaker (2013): Factors Affecting the Decision to Merge: The case of strategic mergers in Norwegian higher education, in “Tertiary Education and Management”, Vol. 19 (4), 323-337 Laclau, Ernesto & Chantal Mouffe (1985): Hegemony and Socialist Strategy – Towards a Radical Democratic Politics, Verso Locke, William (2007): Higher Education Mergers: Integrating Organisational Cultures and Developing Appropriate Management Styles, in Higher Education Quarterly, Vol. 61 (1), 83–102 McKee, K. (2009): Post-Foucauldian governmentality: What does it offer critical social policy analysis?, in Critical Social Policy, vol. 29 (3) Miller, Peter & Nikolas Rose (1992): Political Power beyond the State: Problematics of Government, in The British Journal of Sociology, vol. 43 (2) Pedersen, Dorthe et al. (red.) (2008): Genopfindelsen af den offentlige sektor – Ledelsesudfordringer i reformernes tegn, København: Børsens Forlag Pedersen, Ove Kaj; Kjær, Peter (2001): Translating Liberalization: Neoliberalism in the Danish Negotiated Economy, in The Rise of Neoliberalism and Institutional Analysis, Princeton : Princeton University Press, 2001, 219-248. Rose, Nikolas (1999): The Powers of Freedom – Reframing Political Thought, Cambridge University Press): Send mere ledelse - En analyse af Ledersamfundets konsekvenser, Syddansk Universitetsforlag Seo, Myeong-Gu & N. Sharon Hill (2005): Understanding the Human Side of Merger and Acquisition - An Integrative Framework, in The Journal of Applied Behavioral Science, Vol. 41 (4), 422-443 Skodvin, Ole-Jakob (1999): Mergers in Higher Education – Success or Failure, in Tertiary Education and Management 5: 65–80
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