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Status, stress and fit: comparing the faculty stress impact of university consolidations

Saundra J. Ribando (Pamplin College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences, Augusta University, Augusta, Georgia, USA)
Catherine P. Slade (Hull College of Business, Augusta University, Augusta, Georgia, USA)
C. Kevin Fortner (Department of Educational Policy Studies, College of Education and Human Development, Georgia State University, Atlanta, Georgia, USA)

Journal of Organizational Change Management

ISSN: 0953-4814

Article publication date: 1 April 2020

Issue publication date: 22 April 2020




Institutions of higher education face challenges of fiscal responsibility and their value proposition for students and other stakeholders they serve. Strategies used in business sectors, such as merger and acquisition, are being increasingly adopted by higher education governing boards, especially for public institutions and systems. The purpose of this paper is to guide policy decisions related to university mergers.


This paper focuses on the interplay between the pre-merger status of the institution, the individual faculty member's sense of belonging, and their commitment to the organization on levels of job-related stress, which has well-established negative impacts on individual and organizational performance. Using survey data collected at the same time post-merger from two different universities within the same state system, we explore regression models to identify similarities and differences between the faculty responses in terms of the impact of the merger on faculty stress.


Differences are found between the two universities in terms of faculty stress with faculty of one low status institution pre-merger having significantly higher stress post-merger. A case is presented for differences in stress based on a part on differences in how the mergers were managed at the system and university levels.

Practical implications

This research is instructive for higher education policy makers and university administrators as the institution of higher education continues this type of transformation.


This paper examines the impact of mergers on a university's single-most important asset, faculty. Comparative and timely faculty survey results from two related universities early post-merger provide valuable insights for leaders in higher education.



Ribando, S.J., Slade, C.P. and Fortner, C.K. (2020), "Status, stress and fit: comparing the faculty stress impact of university consolidations", Journal of Organizational Change Management, Vol. 33 No. 2, pp. 289-300.



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