A Case for the Change
The merging of two universities is the foundation for a better education system sponsored by the Ministry of Higher Education. Since their idea is to merge them together by the end of 2016, it makes sense and brings value for both parties: the American University of Al Ain that is 6 years old and has 3,000 current students and the British University of Al Ain that is 7 years old and has 2,800 current students. The purpose is to establish a new form of entity in Al Ain city. Altogether, it turns out to be 13 years of professional experience and 5,800 students for a privately owned university. There are no objections since this is a win-win outcome for both universities based on the perception of the Ministry of Higher Education. However, in case the universities do not cooperate, there will be no accreditation for both of them, which is a more negative consequence as compared to the merger. Hence, there are no objections on both ends. It is also important to consider differences in approaches to the education of both universities. On the one hand, the American University of Al Ain deeply values cutting-edge technologies, which is considered as smart from the position of the American educational system of credit hours. On the other hand, the British University of Al Ain prefers a traditional way of education that excludes all high-tech applications and takes advantage of the British educational system. Consequently, there is a need for the proper implementation of the change management system, which is equally important for both universities. The major advantage of such a change is the high quality of the personnel and similar programs at both universities. However, there is one drawback in such a merger and the change management as a whole, which is the fact that one president will have to quit. For this reason, both presidents are concerned about their future since the merged university should have only one president. Nevertheless, both universities have about a year to manage the merger and the fact that it is not public yet is of great advantage for both of them.
Change Management Insights for the Merger
In order to implement the change management process successfully, both universities should fully and totally understand the nature of managing change before, during, and after the merger. For this reason, it makes sense to emphasize the mutual vision of change management practices based on the best practices. Overall, change management is the key to a successful merger for the universities. Otherwise, the combined university will not have the expected accreditation. It is also important to understand that change management is a process that takes time, which is why the Ministry of Higher Education has given one year to proceed with the merger. Hence, in order to bring the best value to the merger, both universities should learn new skills in managing change altogether. Therefore, change management is a structure that should be followed in every step of the merger in order to make it smooth and successful. The purpose is to have more benefits for both universities while merging. It also reflects the impact on the management personnel and teams of educators. Thus, there should be a strategy for a change that could be perceived by means of the change management policy. The aim is to reach the best potential for the merged university by surpassing weak points of each with the strongest points of both of them. Ultimately, by understanding the nature of change management, both universities will be able to consider the psychology of change, including the behaviors of employees and students. However, it should be the system that is applied by both universities through the personal impact on all the parties, supported by changes in organizational procedures. For example, universities can think of the creation of a toolkit such as a checklist or a plan of changes that should be implemented in the order of importance and value to the merger (Schultz & Schultz 2010).
Specific Change Management Objectives for the Merger
· To understand how the best practices of change management could bring more value to the merger;
· To think of merger activities and scope of the merger so as to implement the change effectively;
· To investigate change management instruments for the best possible outcomes for the merger;
· To set phases of change management and proceed with them accordingly;
· To identify the readiness of the universities for change;
· To establish a communication plan to apply for the merger;
· To consider sufficient training for both universities in order to guarantee a successful change management process comprising the merger;
· To emphasize the means of humanity while implementing changes;
· To reflect cultural differences in the merged university;
· To agree on the sponsorship in charge with the senior executive level;
· To gain buy-in for the merger with respect to changes for all stakeholders;
· To involve the proper personnel to manage the change in the desired way;
· To evaluate ways in which the merger and change management process could affect both students and educators;
· To manage communication by means of informing all the parties and assessing the overall impact of the merger;
· To help people adapt to changes by delivering proper information and supporting them with all-sufficient training and help.
New Name for the University
In order to implement the first step, it is important to see what both universities are working for, which could be depicted in the new name of the merged university. Hence, based on the perspectives of both, it makes sense to ensure there is the soul of every university in the name of the merged one. The best possible name is the “The British-American University of Al Ain”. It is applicable to both universities since it has the origin of both universities as well as it considers their general approach to education. Overall, it will be referred to as the university with American benefits in terms of using modern technologies and taking advantage of the fundamental British approach to the system of education (Kirchmer 2011).
Change Management in Leadership, Authority, and Personnel
In order to achieve the best outcomes of the merger, it is important to start with identifying the party responsible for the whole process of merging. This party would have the senior executive authority and will be in charge of the termination of change objectives along with the coordination of the working process for all employees of both universities. This person will also be responsible for the selection of change management agents who will define the change management plan and will make sure it is followed during the merger. This party will also be in charge of enhancing job descriptions and the overall approach to employment, including the benefits of the supplementary training plan. This person will also coordinate change management activities with respect to the organization of the universities and their personalized changes. It includes a selection of a new team for the merged university who will be educators of the new educational institution known as the British-American University of Al Ain. Consequently, it is better to consider the new principle for the merged university. Since both presidents are interested in keeping their positions, it would be fair to consider the pros and cons of having both presidents in charge of the merged university. It could be positioned from the position of value that each president will strive to achieve for the newly established university. Afterward, reports from both presidents could be submitted to the Ministry of Higher Education with the request to decide which president will be the best asset for the British-American University of Al Ain. Such an option of selecting the president will not have any conflict situations as both presidents have equal opportunities that depend on their future contribution to the merged university. Consequently, despite the conclusion of the Ministry of Higher Education, there should be no arguments and the president who stays will be in charge. However, after the executive managing position is decided, the new president could offer the former one a new position in the new university. It will be fair as the other president knows the aspect of the other university that the new one is not familiar with. Hence, it will be more comfortable for both of them to continue working together by delivering even more value to students after the merger. Besides, it makes sense to consider the position for the former president to be close to the executive level, which will also contribute to the change management process. Thus, both presidents will lead the change on their newly established positions. In fact, the best leadership role for the university management would be transformational leadership since this style of managing people is considered to be the best one among numerous conventional practices of running educational institutions (Kitty & Kaczmarek 2010).
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The Possible Impact on the Stakeholders and Ways to Deal with the Consequences
In order to manage the change properly without any negative consequences, it is highly important to create the same atmosphere and organize the working process that would fit both universities. It will help to contribute to the highly technical nature of the American University of Al Ain and the British traditional approach to education at the University of Al Ain. For this reason, it is important to manage the change plan that would take advantage of both and thus contribute to each other. Therefore, the merged university should analyze the already established approach to education and consider how every approach could benefit the other one. However, it is important to offer the change from the position of value to the educational system. The university management could take advantage of the brainstorming technique that will combine teams from both universities and let them decide on changes together. Such a decision will help to avoid many problems in terms of miscommunication. Nevertheless, it is vital to have an implementation plan that is signed by all involved parties. In addition, it makes sense to think of the controlling party, i.e. the person who will make sure every changed element is as agreed and stated in the change plan. Such analysis will help to minimize the negative effects of the merger during the implementation of the change management system in the new university. For example, the group of selected individuals could brainstorm the main areas of interest to be changed in the first turn. There are many different ways to consider the effects of the change and the new university team is free to select the best one that fits the vast majority of employees. However, it is essential to take advantage of the following approach that defines the overall impact of change. In particular, it refers to departments, the process of education under American and British systems, student-related groups, and employees of the new university. It could also be helpful to think of the strategy, system, structure, skills, values, and styles of both parties and come up with the best possible version for both. At the same time, it is of primary importance to measure risks that could take place as a result of differences in the thinking styles of both British and American mentalities. The next step is to estimate the contribution of the change management plan and its impact on all the stakeholders. It includes the decision-making process along with possible consequences. Therefore, it is imperative to think of the ways to manage the negative actions of people as well as to support them with information on what is better for both parties. It requires support and openness from executive management. Besides, it is significant to be ready for unpredicted circumstances (Hofstede, van der Aalst, Adams & Russell 2010).
Change Management and University Culture
Cultural implications for the newly established university should be addressed openly. It is essential to make the cultural program understood for all the stakeholders. It includes understanding both the positive and negative behaviors of employees, which is followed with appropriate support and understanding. In this way, the university management will have fewer issues since employees will better understand opportunities and possible rewards resulting from the participation in the merger. It also refers to the values and / or beliefs of people, including their attitudes to particular aspects of culture. In fact, the best option is to establish a mixed culture – an anticipated step for long-lasting cooperation and many benefits for the personal identification of every employee. In other words, in such a way it is possible to minimize resistance to change from employees. However, the most important aspect of concern is the accountability of every team member of the merged university. It also corresponds to incentives and enthusiasm for creating a better philosophy of teaching and learning with the enhanced system of education and curriculum. Besides, successful management of resistance to change could be achieved by means of proper identification of team tasks and understanding of the overall change management process by all stakeholders (Franz & Kirchmer 2012).
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The Best Practices of Change Management Models to Maintain the Merger
It is of the greatest advantage to using the best practices of change management in order to sustain the merger of the universities. It makes sense since the parties will be involved in change management activities such as ensuring reasons for change, identifying new teams, assessing expectations of the stakeholders, determining sponsorship, planning the communication process, evaluating the impact of the merger, predicting resistance to change, identifying success of the merger, supporting future actions, etc. Hence, the change management model should address the following phases: getting ready for the change, managing change processes, and reinforcing outcomes. It refers to the formation of the change management strategy, creation of the change management team, development of sponsorship, creation of change management plans, control of their implementation, coaching / counseling and training of employees, collection of feedback from employees, diagnosis of possible gaps, management of resistance to change, and implementation of proper actions to overcome difficulties and achieve success in the merger (Kohlbacher 2010). Overall, every change management model requires a long-lasting structural transformation that refers to the scale of the universities, their involvement in the change management process, duration of change, and strategic significance for both executives and employees. The steps are different, but they all include the following characteristics. The human side of university life is essential. It means there is a need to pay attention to the needs of employees and deeply value their human needs. It also refers to the use of their skills and capabilities. Besides, it helps to predict and minimize issues. It also makes sense to plan the merger and establish it with a system of strategic processes. The other concern is the inclusion and involvement of all the layers ranging from executives to employees. This is important in order to deliver the best possible outcomes for the merger. In case executives are willing to have the best results, they should illustrate them in the very beginning. The idea is to focus on the involvement of employees and their support, organization, and training. It relates to the motivation of people through the vision and mission of both universities that will make change happen in the best possible way. The other implication is to have a format case of interaction with all the stakeholders. The goal is to challenge reality and provide convincing evidence and facts that would make people cooperate. At the same time, it is essential to demonstrate faith by means of using the transformational leadership model for managing people and illustrating the opportunity for growth to all the stakeholders. It addresses the creation of a guide to follow for all participants in the merger (Hammer & Hershman 2010). One more element of the model is the creation of new ownership. It could be achieved by identifying the problem and finding the solution together. Consequently, it is all about actions, not just words. As a result, there will be fewer resistance issues as people will be willing to contribute their skills, knowledge, and experience to the merger. However, it is impossible without the next stage – communication, which is the most essential element of the change management model. The purpose is to communicate the message to all the stakeholders by means of delivering true information and showing the input in the new system of British – American education (Kerzner 2009). Moreover, the other aspect is the establishment of the cultural landscape. The idea is to meet the demands of all population groups by means of understating needs and creating the vision for growth in the future. As a final point, the merged university should encourage individuals to join the journey of educating students with the best practices taken from American and British systems of education. It also refers to benefits for employees from both sides. As a matter of fact, in case all the above implications are addressed, sustainability issues will never appear. Overall, the above mentioned best practices have been taken from the number of change management models. Thus, the British-American University of Al Ain could always take advantage of the following change management principles to address the details of these models (Van der Aalst 2011). The toolkit includes the models for understanding the change that could be perceived with the Change Curve, the Lewin’s Change Management Model, and the Beckhard and Harris’s Change Model. At the same time, the process of planning the change could be better understood with the following models: Impact Analysis, Burke-Litwin Change Model, McKinsey 7S Framework, Leavitt’s Diamond, Organization Design, and SIPOC Diagrams. The next step is to consider the implementation of change from the position of Kotter’s 8-Step Change Model and Training Needs Assessment models. The final point of concern is the communication of change and its enhancement in the future, which could be achieved with the help of the Stakeholder Analysis, Stakeholder Management, and Mission Statements and Visions Statements. Altogether, the combination of these models will help to enhance the best practices of change management that have been addressed above.
Withal, it is important to make the process of change easy for all the stakeholders, which will automatically make the process smooth and devoid of any negative implications from the position of executives and regular employees. Overall, the objective of the university is to deliver the best possible education to its students. In this respect, the British-American University of Al Ain has an excellent opportunity to proceed.
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