Facilitatory and Inhibitory Factors in Higher Education Mergers
: Case Studies from the Irish Institute of Technology Sector

  • Allison Kenneally

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Business (DBA)


The Irish Institute of Technology (hereinafter referred to as IoT) sector is poised to undergo a period of transformation, consolidation and system reconfiguration, to be brought about through a series of institutional mergers, collaborations and alliances. This research focuses on the Irish higher education (hereinafter referred to as HE) landscape, and in particular, on the journey of three groups of IoTs (hereinafter referred to as Alliances) as they plan to merge and subsequently apply to be re-designated as technological universities (hereinafter referred to as TUs). This research provides a contemporaneous account of how the Irish IoTs are organising themselves for merger and examines the substantial challenges which lie therein. By examining and comparing three Alliances which are undergoing a similar process but with varying degrees of success, this research explores the key factors which facilitate on one hand, and/or inhibit on the other, merger negotiations and the merger process in HE, both at a system and institutional level. This knowledge will be useful to policy makers and other higher education institutions (hereinafter referred to as HEIs), particularly in Ireland’s IoT sector, which is likely to experience a wave of mergers over the coming decade. It also contributes to the relatively scant body of literature on the nature of and the factors impacting upon the merger process in higher education, and of mergers in the Irish HE context.A qualitative study, employing a multiple case study approach, was adopted. Based upon a thematic analysis of data gathered from the three cases, this research identifies and categorises the key factors that are perceived to facilitate on the one hand, or inhibit on the other, the merger process in HE, both at a system and institutional level. A framework consisting of political, strategic, operational, emotive, historic and cultural factors is proposed, examined and discussed, and recommendations for both institutional and system level actors are provided. In addition, this research proposes a micro-political model which details the various phases through which HE mergers proceed, and argues that it is the macro and micro-political and emotive factors, rather than strategic or operational factors, which have the most powerful influence on the merger process.
Date of Award27 Jun 2017
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorRobin Shields (Supervisor) & John Davies (Supervisor)


  • Higher Education Mamagement; Mergers; Organisational Change

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