A Merger Case Study of Learning and Change: Exploring the Relationships Between Learning Styles and Change Orientation to Enhance Learning Interventions

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Title: A Merger Case Study of Learning and Change: Exploring the Relationships Between Learning Styles and Change Orientation to Enhance Learning Interventions
Author: Tredway, Ron
Advisors: Dr. James Burrow, Committee Co-Chair
Dr. Paula K. Berardinelli, Committee Chair
Dr. Don Martin, Committee Member
Dr. Conrad Glass, Committee Member
Abstract: This exploratory case study investigated the relationships between change orientation [readiness] scores and learning styles, of individuals within an organization undergoing complex change — mergers and acquisitions (M&A). The intent to understand where a learning intervention could be applied in a prioritized manner, in the area of greatest need — low change readiness, and most dominant learning style, was achieved. The study therefore adds to the change integration, and M&A literature, an exploration of individual change and learning tendencies and their collaborative use in intervention design and development, within an observed M&A environment; a medium-sized east coast company in the health sciences profession. Understanding change readiness and ways to positively influence change outcomes in organizations dealing with complex change remains a strategic factor in helping organizations realize synergies and achieve competitive advantage, especially in M&A environments. While learning interventions continue to be a primary strategy used by change organizations to influence effective change results, these organizations seek intervention efficiency and effectiveness. Learning interventions based on learners' [change recipients'] learning styles, helps ensure learning acceptance and application, which enhances organizational change integration. Quantitative and qualitative data collection and analysis were included in the study design. Quantitative change and learning data were collected through an online survey, with items adapted by permission from the Organization Change Orientation Scale (Jones and Bearley, 1986) and the Learning Style Inventory (Kolb, 1999), and analyzed using SAS 8.0 GLM. Qualitative data were collected through interviewing 10 randomly selected change recipients from the organization using a metaphor elicitation technique, and analyzed through coding to understand cultural norms, employee learning needs, organizational goals, and perception of the acquisitions. Investigation involved; 1) determination of the critical learning needs perceived by organizational managers and non-managers to ensure successful acquisition integration, 2) the identification of change readiness scores and learning styles of change recipients, 3) determination of how these scores and styles were distributed across the population investigated, 4) assessment of the relationships between change readiness scores and the individual learning styles among change recipients in the organization, and 5) assessment of the relationships between change readiness scores and demographic variables - organizational entities, gender, age, race, function, management, and job change. Concluded from the analysis, three frequently mentioned learning needs for acquisition integration were identified, supporting evidence of need for ongoing intervention development. Supporting intervention prioritization, one or more significant differences were found on each of the research questions. Change readiness scores of the original organization were significantly lower than the latest acquisition, and change recipients with the Converging learning style had significantly lower change readiness scores than those with the Accommodating learning style. Low readiness scores were also found among Males, Caucasians, and technical job functions such as IT-Programmers, while high readiness change scores were found among females, managers and change recipients over age 45. The conclusions of this study have implications for understanding the change readiness level and learning style of change recipients simultaneously, as a technique for prioritizing and enhancing the development of learning interventions during complex organizational change. Three learning interventions were warranted in this situation, and learning intervention prioritization and development suggested for the organization based on these findings. Benefits to human resources, human resource development, organization development and line management leaders are implied, suggesting further application and research opportunities.
Date: 2006-05-09
Degree: EdD
Discipline: Training and Development
URI: http://www.lib.ncsu.edu/resolver/1840.16/4874

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