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

Saundra J. Ribando, Catherine P. Slade, C. Kevin Fortner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: 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. Design/methodology/approach: 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. Findings: 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. Originality/value: 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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)289-300
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Organizational Change Management
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 22 2020


  • Faculty productivity
  • Higher education policy
  • Merger
  • Organization culture

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Decision Sciences(all)
  • Strategy and Management
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


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