School of Education


Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership (EdD)


Barry Dotson


merging colleges, college mergers, acquiring colleges, higher education leadership


Educational Leadership


The purpose of this transcendental phenomenological study was to describe the experience of administrators who participated in mergers of technical colleges in a Southern state in the United States. The theory guiding this study was Lewin’s (1997) change theory. Lewin (1997) suggested that the critical factor of an organization’s tone lies in leadership before, during, and after a change. Therefore, the success of any significant organizational transition, such as a merger, relies on the skills of leaders. A central research question and three sub-questions were used to understand the lived experiences that impact administrators during a college merger. A qualitative methodology was used to understand participants’ personal experiences in a natural setting. Two-year technical colleges merged within one college system located in the Southern United States served as the setting for this research. The study included 10 participants from current two-year college administrators and former administrators who were administrators during the merger of one of the merged colleges within Merged Technical College Systems (MTCS). Data were collected from interviews, focus groups, and reflection documents simultaneously. Moustakas’ (1994) methods for transcendental phenomenology were used to analyze the data. After reading and rereading the transcripts of the interviews, reflection documents, and transcripts of focus groups, data were clustered into common themes. Five themes emerged: Uncertainty, Benefits, Change, Communication, and Culture. Throughout the study, I bracketed myself out by memoing.