Document Type : Research
MA Graduated, Sharif University of Technology, Tehran, Iran
Assistant Professor, Sharif University of Technology, Tehran, Iran
Associate Professor, Sharif University of Technology, Tehran, Iran
The importance of successful integration has been emphasized in prior literature. In fact, it has been shown that internal integration of different departments in an organization can remove duplication among different activities, improve efficiencies, and consequently enhance firm performance. If proper integration is going to happen, different departments should focus on the key objectives of organizations and work together to share information, prioritize activities, and plan for achieving these objectives. However, previous literature has revealed that the successful integration of two departments that are well established and might be pursuing apparently different goals will be challenging. In fact, some studies have revealed that the integration of two different departments will usually fail.
In this research, we focus on the integration of two departments at a university. The context of the university has been selected as universities are also faced with uncertainties and in order to survive and be successful, they have to deploy solutions to enhance their efficiencies. Prior studies have demonstrated that any attempts to better integrate the skills and knowledge of employees can support organizations to better utilize their resources, benefit from competitive advantage and, consequently, enhance their efficiency and performance. On the other hand, universities play a pivotal role in training students, the progress of research, and consequently, economic development. As a result, the enhancement of efficiencies can be important in these organizations.
Integration in organizations is a very complicated phenomenon that can be impacted by several factors such as culture, structure, formal or informal relationships, as well as cross-functional relationships. Considering the unique characteristics of universities such as their culture, stakeholders, leadership, and structure, conducting research in these contexts can offer new insights into the integration literature. Prior research has also corroborated that there is limited understanding of the factors supporting or inhibiting the successful integration of departments in an organization, especially in specific contexts.
In this research, we focus on the integration of two departments, Support Services and Human Resources. Previous studies have shown that several universities in Iran have merged these two departments. As a result, learning about the key factors that might contribute to or prevent successful integration would be valuable. The research question of this study can be thus stated: "What are the key factors that impact the successful integration of the two departments of Support Services and Human Resources in a university?"
Prior studies were reviewed and several factors impacting a successful internal integration were identified. These factors include culture, support of top managers, structure, communication, evaluation and reward, strategic consensus, job rotation, work behavior, and cross-functional teams.
Due to the nature of the research and our goal to provide an in-depth understanding of the phenomenon, qualitative research was adopted. To better understand the context of a university, we adopted a single case study approach. The data was collected through semi-structured interviews and observations from a university in Iran. Based on the reviewed literature, an interview guideline was designed. 23 interviews were conducted with senior executives, middle managers, and other knowledgeable individuals, such as former senior and middle managers. Snowball sampling was used to choose interviewees. Data collection continued until theoretical saturation was reached. Interviews were recorded and then transcribed. Thematic analysis was employed to evaluate semi-structured interviews. Several factors impacting the integration of Support Services and Human Resources departments were extracted in the first step, then classified into categories and subcategories, and finally, themes were determined.
The findings of the interviews were classified into five main themes. The identified factors influencing the successful integration of the two departments of Support Services and Human Resources in a university environment were identified as follows: "cooperation of managers at different levels for the implementation of the integration plan", "existing culture and values", "university administrative rules and procedures", "structure", and "consensus on integration".
Discussion and Conclusion
The findings of this research contribute to the integration literature by highlighting the key factors that impact the successful integration of the two departments of Support Services and Human Resources in a university. Our findings also add to the higher education literature by shedding light on the factors that should be taken into account in the integration procedure in a university, which can enhance the efficiency of a university. The findings of this research also have valuable practical implications for the top managers of universities who may want to integrate two departments, particularly Support Services and Human Resources.