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Culture and leadership

Mergers or the formation of college federations, are both major types of organisation change. There is a substantial body of research, as well as considerable experience from previous college mergers in Scotland, which claims that the vital issues in ensuring change is effective include a range of cultural and leadership matters.


There is no common approach or common methods that must be adhered to. The context of the merging or federating colleges must be considered, and approaches must be adapted to local circumstances. That said there are a range of points that can be made, and that should be attended to as the process of merger or federation is taken forward.

Importance of Culture and Leadership

A considerable body of research and experience leads to the conclusion that colleges must ensure a strong focus is placed on aspects of culture and leadership throughout the process of change. Kavanagh and Ashkanasy[i],make the following crucial point about mergers:

'Our results suggest that changing an organization boils down to directing energy and effort towards four identifiable aspects of organizational life:

  1. the behaviour of institutional leaders;
  2. the selection and execution of appropriate management strategies (particularly change management strategies);
  3. an understanding of the organization's basic structure, systems and formal processes (culture); and
  4. actions taken by leaders affecting acceptance of change by individuals who play key roles in both formal and informal systems'.

The behaviour of institutional leaders

Leadership and trust

The importance of culture

Communication issues


[i]Kavanagh, M. and Ashkanasy, N. (2006) The Impact of Leadership and Change Management Strategy on Organizational Culture and Individual Acceptance of Change During a Merger. British Journal of Management, Vol.17, S81-S103