The Construction of Support and Opposition A Study of an Attempted Higher Education Merger
Sammanfattning: This study focuses on support and opposition in an attempted merger between three Norwegian university colleges. The university colleges that took part in the merger process were Buskerud University College, Vestfold University College and Østfold University College, all three located in the south-east part of Norway. The study takes its point of departure in the fact that the merger process was terminated before a decision to merge was reached. It aims to describe the two discourses of support and opposition, and explain change in discursive practices from support to opposition.The thesis is divided into three parts. In the first part the conceptual framework used in the analysis is presented, as well as the area of mergers in higher education and methodological aspects. Four conceptual pairs are used to analyse the merger process; support/opposition, idea/operationalisation, outwards/inwards and modern/traditional. The second part is constructed as a play with acts presenting the merger process in a chronological order where the conceptual pairs are used to describe and explain discursive practices. The third and final part focuses on general insights into the construction of support and opposition in the terminated merger process.The study shows that the use of different discursive practices evolved into antagonism between the three university colleges leading to the termination of the merger process. Supporting the idea to merge in order to achieve university status was not enough to support the merger if the operationalisation of how the merger process was to be conducted, and how the merged organisation was to be constructed led to a disadvantageous power position. In addition, discursive practices of support and opposition were conditioned by discourses of the education market and academic drift.
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