How might your staff react to news of an institutional merger? A psychological contract approach

Chris Senior, Colm Fearon, Heather McLaughlin, Saranzaya Manalsuren

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to understand the nature of staff/employee (i.e. learning and teaching, curriculum support and administrative staff) perceptions, anxieties and worries about early merger change in the UK further education (FE) sector. Design/methodology/approach: Survey data were collected from 128 out of 562 employees to examine perceptions of psychological contract (post-merger announcement) on an FE college in England. Paired t-tests were used to analyse quantitative data. Additionally, a content analysis of open-ended questions was incorporated as part of a combined methods survey evaluation approach for discussion and triangulation purposes. Findings: Quantitative results from t-tests showed there had been a decrease in the perception of fulfilled obligations in nine of the ten areas of the psychological contract. Qualitative results indicated that communications, job security and uncertainty were common negative outcomes post-merger announcement. Implications for education managers from the case study include: a need for improved organizational communication; developing trust and mentorship for greater employee support, as well as; promoting further employee training and new opportunities for teamwork. Research limitations/implications: Psychological contract theories for evaluating organizational change are useful given the recent interest in sharing public services and institutional mergers in the UK. This research demonstrates the benefits of using psychological contract, as well as how to apply such an evaluation for understanding staff concerns. Originality/value: The paper demonstrates a usable (psychological contract) survey evaluation approach for studying the impact of early merger change on staff in the FE, or higher education sectors in the UK (or elsewhere).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)364-382
Number of pages19
JournalInternational Journal of Educational Management
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Further education
  • Identity
  • Merger and acquisition
  • Psychological contract

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management


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