Original Research

Transformational leadership in merging higher education institutions: A case study

Crispen Chipunza, Shungu A. Gwarinda
SA Journal of Human Resource Management | Vol 8, No 1 | a195 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajhrm.v8i1.195 | © 2010 Crispen Chipunza, Shungu A. Gwarinda | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 20 February 2009 | Published: 17 June 2010

About the author(s)

Crispen Chipunza, Department of Industrial Psychology, University of Fort Hare, South Africa
Shungu A. Gwarinda, Department of Industrial Psychology, University of Fort Hare, South Africa


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Abstract

Orientation: The use of transformational leadership in the implementation of merger and incorporation policy in the higher education sector is well documented in other parts of the world and not in countries in transition like South Africa.

Research purpose: The objectives of this study were to establish an understanding of ‘transformational leadership’ and to determine the extent to which it was employed by leaders in an institution of higher education which had incorporated another institution.

Motivations for the study: The study provides a starting point, not only for the successful implementation of higher education changes in the future but also the building of leadership commitment and alignment to the proposed changes in the sector as well as the development of institutional leadership teams to take responsibility for any other transformation processes.

Research design, approach and method: The population of the study consisted of 350 full-time employees of the institution who had experienced the incorporation process. Two samples – one consisting of six executive management leaders and the other consisting of 153 employees – were used. Both qualitative and quantitative research approaches were employed using the case study method.

Main findings: Results showed that transformational principles of idealised influence, intellectual stimulation, and inspirational motivation principles were used more than others and that employees were generally not satisfied with how the incorporation process had taken place.

Practical/managerial implications: The results of the study affected the attitude and satisfaction of the employees in this study.

Contribution/value-add: The study reveals that leaders in the institution played key roles such as shared vision, team work and the creation of an enabling environment. An important point that has emanated from this study is the evidence that during transformation, a lack of strategic direction and empowering of followers and capacitating them leads to dissatisfaction with the whole process, despite the transformation process being declared a success.


Keywords

transformational leadership; merger; incorporation; executive management; higher education

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