An appreciative inquiry approach into the post-merger Campbell Collections-University of KwaZulu-Natal.
Mbhele, Hlengiwe Witness.
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The study conducted was An Appreciative Inquiry approach into the post-merger Campbell Collections at UKZN. The study was meant to explore and discover the value of the Campbell Collections in the new merged institution, which is the University of KwaZulu- Natal. The study was appreciative in nature, and it took the complete interconnected elements that affect the system into consideration. Every year since 2004, when the University of Natal and the University of Durban Westville were officially declared as merged, there have been various changes that took place. The merger is one huge change project that the universities engaged in. Thus the concepts ‘merger’ and ‘change’ were used inter-changeably in the study. The background on the merger was brought into perspective, and an in-depth literature review on Appreciative Inquiry was conducted. Appreciative Inquiry (AI) introduced to the study a research perspective that was very different in focus from more traditional approaches. AI is a highly participative, systemwide approach that seeks to identify and enhance the life-giving forces. It concentrates on things we want to increase to add value, and it is a radical approach to understanding the social world. It concentrates on exploring ideas that people have about what is valuable in what they do and then tries to work out ways in which this can be built on. The emphasis is strong on appreciating the activities and responses of people, rather than focusing on their problems. Appreciative Inquiry is declared to be a strong pillar of research which looks to build a productive link between people and the substance of what they talk about as past and present capacities. In general AI studies are carried out through the use of 4-D Cycles. The 4-Ds represent: discovery; dream; design and destiny. This study was conducted through the application of only two Ds which are discovery and dream phases. The questions used in data gathering were crafted based on affirmative topics to meet the principles of AI. The interview technique was employed and carried out in the form of individual/one-one interviews as well as through focus groups. All Campbell Collections’ staff members were invited to participate in the study, and a few former staff members were also part of the study. The strategic decisions made about whom to invite to take part in a study were based on their experience, familiarity, and understanding of Campbell Collections and the merger. The study findings revealed the strengths and value of Campbell Collections as well as the impact of the merger, mainly in terms of decisions taken at the University’s executive level. One limitation of the study was that it was bound to Campbell Collections; therefore, the information generated could not be generalised and remained specific to the particular case studied. However, the same research can be studied further to evaluate the entire postmerger system of the University.