Presentation Details

The Fourth International Conference on Knowledge, Culture and Change in Organisations

Change Management and Resistance to Change: An Empirical Investigation of Perceptions of a University Merger

David Coldwell, Hagos Tesfatsion Asghedom.

The government of South Africa is currently embarking on a programme of merging higher institutions with a view to redressing past imbalances, creating synergies and promoting rationalisation in resources.

The Universities of Natal Durban, Pietermaritzburg and the University of Durban Westville are currently being merged into one institution.

Against this back-drop, a sample 100 MBA students from the Graduate School of Business were selected using a quantitative and qualitative approach in a correlation cross sectional research design. The measuring instruments comprised a structured questionnaire incorporating a Likert-type scale and an open-ended interview schedule. These instruments aimed to expose perceptions of the change management process and resistance to change among respondents.

The findings indicate that most respondents are positive regarding the need and vision of the merger but are negative as regards the change management process and, in particular, the effectiveness of the guiding team and communications.

Negative associations were found between resistance to change and the perceived effectiveness of change management. In other words, respondents who perceived the management of change regarding the merger as being more effective were less likely to harbour feelings of resistance to change. It was further discovered that respondent perceptions of change management and resistance to change varied across ethnic groups. The importance of effective change management in reducing resistance to change is clearly supported by the results.


David Coldwell  (South Africa)
Director of Post Graduate Programmes
Division of Management, School of Economics and Management
University of Natal

Professor Coldwell has a B.Sc ( Soc) from the University of London and BA (Econ) MA and D.Lit et Phil degrees from the University of South Africa. He is a member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development. He has published over thirty peer-reviewed articles on management in international journals and edited a book on Business research Methods.

Hagos Tesfatsion Asghedom  (South Africa)
Masters Student
University of Natal

Mr.Hagos joined Eritrean Peoples Liberation Front (E.P.L.F) in 1978 abandoning his high school education. He served his country as a fighter and Head of the Special Force Unit (commandos). After the war and independence from Ethiopia, he has served as the Director of Training Staff in the President's Office. Mr. Hagos has an Honours B.A. in Management from the University of Asmara and is now completing his Master of Commerce degree from the University of Natal. He holds the military rank of Lieutenant Colonel.

  • Change Management
  • Resistance to Change,
  • University Merger
  • Perceptions of Diverse Students

(30 min. Conference Paper, English)