Defense Date


Graduation Date

Fall 1-1-2016


One-year Embargo

Submission Type


Degree Name



Communication and Rhetorical Studies


McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts

Committee Chair

Pat Arneson

Committee Member

Janie Harden Fritz

Committee Member

Erik Garrett


Change management, Communication, Engagement, Leadership, Mergers and Acquisitions


Frequent organizational change has become inescapable in postmodern organizations. While thousands of articles and texts have been written on the topic of organizational change offering models and strategies for accomplishing planned change, the majority of change initiatives fail to meet expectations (Burnes and Jackson; Keller and Aiken). What, then, is a business leader to do when change is an imperative in the postmodern business world, but the majority of change initiatives fail to succeed in the manner predicted?

Mergers and acquisitions are a common type of planned change organizations pursue to survive in the postmodern, hypercompetitive marketplace. Mergers and acquisitions can make companies larger and more able to cope in the marketplace, allow organizations to enter new markets or grow in existing markets, or acquire technology, among other benefits (Bastien). Mergers and acquisitions should be a positive organizational action for most stakeholders.

If the parts of change implementation are well known, and if it is true that change should help strengthen an organization so that it can be an ongoing concern, what contributes to the frequent failure of organizational mergers and acquisitions? To help address these questions, this work seeks to understand, “How can an understanding of human communication in organizations aid leaders in implementing successful organizational change during the process of a merger and/or acquisition?” To help answer this question, Pat Arneson’s theory of communication, communicative engagement, can help leaders meet the complexity of planned change through a wholistic approach to communication. Some other organizational change approaches recognize the contingent nature of change, but do not provide the type of robust approach that communicative engagement offers.

Communicative engagement foregrounds theōría-poíēsis-praxis in a transversal awareness that is attentive to others and all sources of information available in a leader’s situatedness. Resources include experiences, traditions, and organizational structures. A leader engages through a body as s/he seeks to create an ethical fitting response to questions and concerns during mergers and acquisitions. Creating a culture with communicative engagement capability is a way to help organizations experience more successful mergers and acquisitions and other significant planned change.