Organizational culture and change is at the heart of the issue surrounding the merger of the DFD and MFD. In this research project, organizational culture is defined as the shared assumption among members about how to react to external and internal factors (Schein, 1992). Organizational change is defined by the degree of change to the organization’s core elements (Cornelissen, 2008; Hannon, Polos, & Carroll, 2004; Griffin, Rafferty, & Mason, 2004). It is one of the purposes of this project to examine the effects of the merger on the culture of both departments. However, despite previous research on the impact of mergers on organizational culture (Stahl & Voight, 2007; Weber & Camerer, 2003), no such studies exist in the context of a fire department merger. This review of current literature provides a detailed summary of research conducted on organizational change, culture, and mergers.
Organizational change tends to occur in organizations that deal predominantly with the public or rely heavily on interactions to complete tasks and projects (Rooney et al., 2010). To keep up with an ever-changing world, organizations must be flexible and change with it (Griffin, Rafferty, & Mason, 2004). The business environment changes rapidly and unpredictably with increased competition, technological developments, higher customer demand, and market globalization. In response to these pressures, organizations are structuring themselves for change so that they are flexible and ready to shift in response to threats to their effectiveness and survival (Zorn, Page, & Cheney, 2000; Kraatz & Zajac, 2001). More (1998) argues that, “successful organizations are those that initiate change, respond to change, plan change and implement change as an ongoing way of life” (p. 30).
While anything altering the daily routine of an organization can be considered change, organizational change is often defined by the degree of the change, for instance whether it is radical and major, or convergent and minor. Radical change consists of “a complete reorientation of an organization, whereas convergent change consists of fine-tuning the existing orientation and ways of working” (Cornelissen, 2008, p. 202). Anytime there is change in an organization, though, it can represent a threat to security or an opportunity to move forward for the people involved (Goodman, 2000).
Organizational change research was quite common in the 1990s (Barry, 1997; Reichers, Wanus, & Austin, 1997; Robertson & Seneviratne, 1995; Fox & Amichai-Hamburger, 1993; Ford & Ford, 1995). While the literature on organizational change in the 1990s was “mostly about de-layering and downsizing middle layers of management and associated roles, there is now a greater focus upon horizontal restructuring” (Bordia et al, 2004, p. 511). Evidence of the popularity of change and its integration into organizational culture is reflected in several books related to organizational leadership and change (Freiburg & Freiburg, 1998;...