, Volume 107, Issue 1, pp 71–89 | Cite as

Faculty research following merger: a job stress and social identity theory perspective

  • Catherine P. SladeEmail author
  • Saundra J. Ribando
  • C. Kevin Fortner


With conflicting public pressure for greater access to higher education and budget reductions and with continuing backlash over increasing tuition and skyrocketing student debt, public universities have intensified efforts to improve organizational efficiency, effectiveness, and productivity. One strategic option is merging institutions of higher education to better utilize resources, reap cost savings, and increase scholarly outputs. Mergers and acquisitions more commonly occur in the business domain and analysis specific to the higher education arena is limited to this point. Our research examines the effects of university merger on knowledge production in the form of faculty scholarly productivity. We use results of a continuing study of merger of two state-funded higher education institutions, with quite different organizational cultures and research orientations, to explore merger impacts. Using the extensive prior literature on job stress and associated person–organization fit, as well as social identity theory, we develop a model of predictors of post-merger research time allocation and associated productivity. We find lingering effects of pre-merger institutional affiliation, particularly for the low status university faculty, on post-merger job stress, organizational fit, and resulting research productivity. The results of our study advance practical approaches to mergers in higher education for policy makers and managers of higher education.


Faculty research productivity Higher education Public policy Social identity theory 


  1. Allen, S. D., Link, A. N., & Rosenbaum, D. T. (2007). Entrepreneurship and human capital: Evidence of patenting activity from the academic sector. Entrepreneurship: Theory and Practice, 31(6), 937–951.Google Scholar
  2. Anderson, D. M., & Slade, C. P. (2015). Managing institutional research advancement: Implications from a university faculty time allocation study. Research in Higher Education, 57(1), 99–121.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Anseel, F. P., Lievens, F. P., Schollaert, E. P., & Choragwicka, B. P. (2010). Response rates in organizational science, 1995–2008: A meta-analytic review and guidelines for survey researchers. Journal of Business and Psychology, 25(3), 335–349.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Areekkuzhiyil S. (2011). Organizational stress among faculty members of higher education sector. Ipswich, MA: ERIC. Online submission (serial online). (Accessed February 3, 2014).Google Scholar
  5. Austin, A. E. (1990). Faculty cultures, faculty values. New Directions for Institutional Research, 68, 61–74.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bentley, P., & Kyvik, S. (2013). Individual differences in faculty research time allocations across 13 countries. Research in Higher Education, 54(3), 329–348. doi: 10.1007/s11162-012-9273-4.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bercovitz, J., & Feldman, M. (2008). Academic entrepreneurs: Organizational change at the individual level. Organization Science, 19, 69–89.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bland, C. J., Finstad, D. A., Risbey, K. R., & Staples, J. (2006). The impact of appointment type on the productivity and commitment of full-time faculty in research and doctoral institutions. The Journal of Higher Education, 77(1), 89–123.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Blix, A. G., Cruise, R. J., Mitchell, B. M., & Blix, G. G. (1994). Occupational stress among university teachers. Educational Research, 36(2), 157–169.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Bozeman, B., & Gaughan, M. (2007). Impacts of grants and contracts on academic researchers’ interactions with industry. Research Policy, 36(5), 694–707.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Bozeman, B., & Gaughan, M. (2011). Job satisfaction among university faculty: Individual, work, and institutional determinants. The Journal of Higher Education, 2, 154–186.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Brown, A., & Humphreys, M. (2003). Epic and tragic tales: Making sense of change. Journal of Applied Behavioral Science, 39(2), 121–144.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Cable, D. M., & Judge, T. A. (1996). Person–organization fit, job choice decisions, and organizational entry. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 67(3), 294–311.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Caldwell, D. (2011). Bidirectional relationships between employee fit and organizational change. Journal of Change Management, 11(4), 401–419.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Cameron, K., & Quinn, R. (2011). Diagnosing and changing organizational culture. San Francisco, CA: Wiley.Google Scholar
  16. Capaldi, E. D. (2009). Intellectual transformation and budgetary savings through academic reorganization. Change, 41(4), 18–27.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Cartwright, S., & Schoenberg, R. (2006). Thirty years of mergers and acquisitions research: Recent advances and future opportunities. British Journal of Management. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8551.2006.00475.x.
  18. Cartwright, S., Tytherleigh, M., & Robertson, S. (2007). Are mergers always stressful? Some evidence from the higher education sector. European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology, 16(4), 456–478. doi: 10.1080/13594320701606391.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Choi, M. (2011). Employees’ attitudes towards organizational change: A literature review. Human Resource Management, 50(4), 479–500.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Colbeck, C. L. (1998). Merging in a seamless blend: How faculty integrate teaching and research. The Journal of Higher Education, 69(6), 647–671.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Creswell, J. W. (1985). Faculty research performance: Lessons from the sciences and the social sciences. ASHE-ERIC Higher Education Report No. 4, 1985. Washington, DC: Association for the Study of Higher Education.Google Scholar
  22. Cunningham, C. T., Quan, H., Hemmelgarn, B., Noseworthy, T., Beck, C. A., Dixon, E., & Jetté, N. (2015). Exploring physician specialist response rates to web-based surveys. BMC Medical Research Methodology, 15(1), 1. doi: 10.1186/s12874-015-0016-z.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Da Silva, N., Hutcheson, J., & Wahl, G. D. (2010). Organizational strategy and employee outcomes: A person–organization fit perspective. The Journal of Psychology, 144(2), 145–161. doi: 10.1080/00223980903472185.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Drowley, M. J., Lewis, D., & Brooks, S. (2013). Merger in higher education: Learning from experiences. Higher Education Quarterly, 67(2), 201–214. doi: 10.1111/hequ.12011.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Dundar, H., & Lewis, D. R. (1998). Determinants of research productivity in higher education. Research in Higher Education, 39(6), 607–631.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Fairweather, J. S., & Beach, A. L. (2002). Variations in faculty work at research universities: Implications for state and institutional policy. The Review of Higher Education, 26(1), 97–115.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Fischer, P., Greitemeyer, T., Omay, S., & Frey, D. (2007). Mergers and group status: The impact of high, low and equal group status on identification and satisfaction with a company merger, experienced controllability, group identity and group cohesion. Journal of Community & Applied Social Psychology, 17(3), 203–217. doi: 10.1002/casp.874.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Fox, M. F. (1992). Research, teaching, and publication productivity: Mutuality versus competition in academia. Sociology of Education, 65(4), 293–305.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Frew, D. R., & Bruning, N. S. (1987). Perceived organizational characteristics and personality measures as predictors of stress/strain in the work place. Journal of Management, 13(4), 633–646.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Gillespie, N. A., Walsh, M. M., Winefield, A. H., Dua, J. J., & Stough, C. C. (2001). Occupational stress in universities: Staff perceptions of the causes, consequences and moderators of stress. Work & Stress, 15(1), 53–72. doi: 10.1080/02678370110062449.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Gmelch, W. H., Lovrich, N. P., & Wilke, P. (1984). Sources of stress in academe: A national perspective. Research in Higher Education, 20(4), 477–490.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Gmelch, W., Wilke, P., & Lovrich, N. (1986). Dimensions of stress among university faculty: Factor-analytic results from a national study. Research in Higher Education, 24(3), 266–286. doi: 10.1007/BF00992075.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Grossman, R. I., & Berne, R. (2010). Commentary: Less is better: Lessons from the New York University–Mount Sinai merger. Academic Medicine: Journal of the Association of American Medical Colleges, 85(12), 1817–1818. doi: 10.1097/ACM.0b013e3181f85a4b.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Gumport, P. J. (2000). Academic restructuring: Organizational change and institutional imperatives. Higher Education, 39, 67–91.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Gupta, N., & Beehr, T. A. (1979). Job stress and employee behaviors. Organizational Behaviour and Human Performance, 23, 373–387.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Guri-Rosenblit, S., Sebkova, H., & Teichler, U. (2007). Massification and diversity of higher education systems: Interplay of complex dimensions. Higher Education Policy, 20(4), 373–389.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Gustin, B. H. (1973). Charisma, recognition, and the motivation of scientists. American Journal of Sociology, 78(5), 1119–1134.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Hardré, P. L., Beesley, A. D., Miller, R. L., & Pace, T. M. (2011). Faculty motivation to do research: Across disciplines in research-extensive universities. Journal of the Professoriate, 5(1), 35–69.Google Scholar
  39. Harman, G. (1993). A merger that failed: The case of the University of New England. Higher Education Quarterly, 47(2), 120–141. doi: 10.1111/j.1468-2273.1993.tb01619.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Harman, K. (2002). Merging divergent campus cultures into coherent educational communities: Challenges for higher education leaders. Higher Education, 44, 91–114.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Haunschild, P. R., Moreland, R. L., & Murrell, A. J. (1994). Sources of resistance to mergers between groups. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 24(13), 1150–1178.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Higher Education Funding Commission. (2012). Report to Governor deal. Atlanta: University System of Georgia. Accessed June 11, 2013 at
  43. Horta, H., Dautel, V., & Veloso, F. M. (2012). An output perspective on the teaching–research nexus: An analysis focusing on the United States higher education system. Studies in Higher Education, 37(2), 171–187.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Houston, D., Meyer, L. H., & Paewai, S. R. (2006). Academic staff workloads and job satisfaction: Expectations and values in academe. Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management, 28(1), 17–30.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Ito, J. K., & Brotheridge, C. M. (2007). Predicting individual research productivity: More than a question of time. Canadian Journal of Higher Education, 37(1), 1–7.Google Scholar
  46. Jacobs, P. A., Tytherleigh, M. Y., Webb, C., & Cooper, C. L. (2007). Predictors of work performance among higher education employees: An examination using the ASSET Model of Stress. International Journal of Stress Management, 14(2), 199–210.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Jamal, M. (1985). Job stress and performance relationships. Human Relations, 38, 409–426.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Kahn, R. L., Wolfe, D. M., Quinn, R. P., & Snoek, J. D. (1964). Organizational stress: Studies in role conflict and ambiguity. New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  49. Kezar, A., & Eckel, P. D. (2002). The effect of institutional culture on change strategies in higher education. The Journal of Higher Education, 73(4), 435–460.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Kinman, G. (2001). Pressure points: A review of research on stressors and strains in UK academics. Educational Psychology, 21(4), 473–492. doi: 10.1080/01443410120090849.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Lindholm, J. A., & Szelényi, K. (2008). Faculty time stress: Correlates within and across academic disciplines. Journal of Human Behavior in the Social Environment, 17(1/2), 19–40. doi: 10.1080/10911350802165437.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Link, A. N., Swann, C. A., & Bozeman, B. (2008). A time allocation study of university faculty. Economics of Education Review, 27(4), 363–374.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Locke, W. (2007). Higher education mergers: Integrating organisational cultures and developing appropriate management styles. Higher Education Quarterly, 61(1), 83–102. doi: 10.1111/j.1468-2273.2007.00339.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Manfreda, K. L., Bosnjak, M., Berzelak, J., Haas, I., & Vehovar, V. (2008). Web surveys versus other survey modes. International Journal of Market Research, 50(1), 79.Google Scholar
  55. Mao, Y. Q., Du, Y., & Liu, J. J. (2009). The effects of university mergers in China since 1990s: From the perspective of knowledge production. International Journal of Educational Management, 23(1), 19–33.Google Scholar
  56. Marsh, H. W., & Hattie, J. (2002). The relation between research productivity and teaching effectiveness. The Journal of Higher Education, 73(5), 603–641.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Middaugh, M. F. (2000). Understanding faculty productivity: Standards and benchmarks for colleges and universities. San Francisco, CA: Josey-Bass.Google Scholar
  58. Milem, J. F., Berger, J. B., & Dey, E. L. (2000). Faculty time allocation: A study of change over twenty years. The Journal of Higher Education, 4, 454–475. doi: 10.2307/2649148.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Miller, A. N., Taylor, S. G., & Bedeian, A. G. (2011). Publish or perish: Academic life as management faculty live it. Career Development International, 16(5), 422–445.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Mills, M., Bettis, P., Miller, J. W., & Nolan, R. (2005). Experiences of academic unit reorganization: Organizational identity and identification in organizational change. Review of Higher Education, 28(4), 597–619.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Moeller, C., & Chung-Yan, G. A. (2013). Effects of social support on professors’ work stress. International Journal of Educational Management, 27(3), 188–202.Google Scholar
  62. Neumann, Y. (1979). Research productivity of tenured and nontenured faculty in U.S. universities: A comparative study of four fields and policy implications. Journal of Educational Administration, 17(1), 92–101.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Neumann, Y., & Finaly-Neumann, E. (1990a). The support-stress paradigm and faculty research publication. The Journal of Higher Education, 61(5), 565–580.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Neumann, Y., & Finaly-Neumann, E. (1990b). Faculty attitudes toward institutional competitive strategies in US research universities. Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education, 15(1), 60–73.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. O’Reilly, C. A., I. I. I., Chatman, J., & Caldwell, D. F. (1991). People and organizational culture: A profile comparison approach to assessing person–organization fit. Academy of Management Journal, 34(3), 487–516. doi: 10.2307/256404.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Pick, D. (2003). Framing and frame shifting in a higher education merger. Tertiary Education and Management, 9(4), 299–316.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Reicher, S. D., Haslam, S., Spears, R., & Reynolds, K. J. (2012). A social mind: The context of John Turner’s work and its influence. European Review of Social Psychology, 23(1), 344–385. doi: 10.1080/10463283.2012.745672.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Ribando, S. J., & Evans, L. (2015). Change happens: Assessing the initial impact of a university consolidation on faculty. Public Personnel Management, 44(1), 99–119.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Ripoll-Soler, C., & de-Miguel-Molina, M. (2014). Are mergers a win–win strategic model? A content analysis of inter-institutional collaboration between higher education institutions. Tertiary Education and Management, 20(1), 44–56. doi: 10.1080/13583883.2013.860187.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Robbins, J. (2008). Toward a theory of the university: Mapping the American Research University in space and time. American Journal of Education, 114(2), 243–272.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Scott, J. C. (2006). The mission of the university: Medieval to postmodern transformations. The Journal of Higher Education, 77(1), 1–39.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Shelley, L. (2010). Research managers uncovered: Changing roles and ‘Shifting Arenas’ in the academy. Higher Education Quarterly, 64(1), 41–64. doi: 10.1111/j.1468-2273.2009.00429.x.MathSciNetCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Shin, J., & Cummings, W. (2010). Multilevel analysis of academic publishing across disciplines: Research preference, collaboration, and time on research. Scientometrics, 85(2), 581–594. doi: 10.1007/s11192-010-0236-2.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Singell, L., Lillydahl, J. H., & Singell, L. D. (1996). Will changing time change the allocation of faculty time? Journal of Human Resources, 31, 429–449.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Skolnik, M. (2000). Does counting publications provide any useful information about academic performance? Teacher Education Quarterly, 27(2), 15–25.Google Scholar
  76. Smith, M. (2012). Transforming traditions: A study of researchers in higher education. Journal of Further and Higher Education, 36(2), 187–203.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  77. Smith, E., Anderson, J. L., & Lovrich, N. P. (1995). The multiple sources of workplace stress among land-grant university faculty. Research in Higher Education, 36(3), 261–282.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  78. State Higher Education Executive Officers. (2013). State higher education finance FY 2012. Atlanta: University System of Georgia. Accessed June 11, 2013 at
  79. Suspitsyna, T. (2012). Higher education for economic advancement and engaged citizenship: An analysis of the U.S. Department of Education discourse. The Journal of Higher Education, 83(1), 49–72.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  80. Toutkoushian, R. K., & Bellas, M. L. (1999). Faculty time allocations and research productivity: Gender, race and family effects. The Review of Higher Education, 22(4), 367–390.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  81. Turner, J. H., Brown, R. J., & Tajfel, H. (1979). Social comparison and group interest ingroup favouritism. European Journal of Social Psychology, 9(2), 187–204.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  82. Tytherleigh, M. Y., Webb, C. C., Cooper, C. L., & Ricketts, C. C. (2005). Occupational stress in UK higher education institutions: A comparative study of all staff categories. Higher Education Research and Development, 24(1), 41–61.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  83. University System of Georgia (USG). (2012).Eight USG institutions recommended for consolidation. Atlanta: University System of Georgia.
  84. Webber, K. L. (2011). Factors related to faculty research productivity and implications for academic planners. Planning for Higher Education, 39(4), 32–43.Google Scholar
  85. Wright, M. C., Howery, C. B., Assar, N., McKinney, K., Kain, E. L., Glass, B., et al. (2004). Greedy institutions: The importance of institutional context for teaching in higher education. Teaching Sociology, 2, 144. doi: 10.2307/3211457.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  86. Xie, J. L. (1996). Karasek’s model in the People’s Republic of China: Effects of job demands, control, and individual differences. Academy of Management Journal, 39(6), 1594–1619.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  87. Zumeta, W., & Raveling, J. S. (2002). Attracting the best and the brightest. Issues in Science and Technology, 19(2), 36–40.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Akadémiai Kiadó, Budapest, Hungary 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Augusta UniversityAugustaUSA
  2. 2.Georgia State UniversityAtlantaUSA

Personalised recommendations