Stewart -Part 4
Organizational Change -Continued
Merger activity across South African higher education has been the focus of several qualitative studies. One early study (Jayaram, 2003)ŕ examined the merger process of two technikons that would become the Durbin Institute of Technology (DITŕ. Like many higher education mergers in South Africa, this one involves a historically advantaged university (HAU) and a historically disadvantaged university (HDU). These unions often produce inequities and tensions during and after the merger process, especially if one institution is entering the merger in an already compromised financial position. Other lessons learned from the DIT study and others are for organizations not to be too inward looking during the merger process, and for managers to be aware that a strong communication strategy should be established from the start (Jayaram, 2003; Muller, 2006; Swanepoel, 2005). Other researchers have pointed out some of the contradictions that can emerge from the merger process, namely that smaller partners generally benefit more from the merger and that on the whole, library mergers don't always lead to cost savings (Swanepoel, 2005). Whatever the eventual outcome, it is likely that South African academic libraries will be heavily engaged in "bedding down merged institutions " in the coming years (Thomas, 2007#041;.
Uncertainties created by the merger process cause general anxiety throughout the organization that, in the absence of effective leadership, can cause significant problems during and after the merger. Another examination of the DIT merger (Muller, 2006) identifies several factors that increase uncertainty, including issues surrounding staff retention and deployment; a lack of formal communication; and a merger process that is too drawn out. Leaders in the merger process should build new "cultural maps" that center on "people issues" without over-emphasizing operational concerns (Muller , 2006). Jayaram(2003), however, advises merger managers to pay attention to routine operational activities so as not to let the merger process overwhelm daily life (and, by extension, staff morale) at the library.
Amidst all of this organizational change, there is debate and discussion in the South African library community on a wide range of labor issues and the role of library professional organizations in representing workforce concerns continues (Raju, et al., 2006). After decades of separate professional associations based on race, the Library and Information Association of South Africa (LIASA) was launched in 1997 and, through its affiliation with international organizations, has eased the apartheid-era isolation of the South African library community. While valuable as a professional organization for similar reasons (networking, advocacy, etc.) as counterpart library professional organizations in other parts of the world, LIASA's role may yet expand due to circumstances that are uniquely South African. Post-apartheid labor laws are highly progressive and allow for organized groups to seek statutory status, attained through a legal process, for collective bargaining and other aspects of employer-employee relationships. Calls for LIASA to assume a greater role in representing the library profession in South Africa center mainly on academic librarians' growing anxiety about their place in a rapidly changing higher education landscape. While most prefer the benefits and prestige of a professional organization, there is growing opinion in favor of LIASA taking on the responsibilities of an occupational organization, which would in at least one scenario lead to unionization (Raju, et al., 2006).