Change Agents and Resilient Practices: The Power of Symbolic Capital in a Post-Merger Integration Context

AbstractThis study analyzes the interactions among mandated change agents within a post-merger integration context and examines the implications of their practices as they attempt to engage with others in a cross-boundary information system implementation project. We examine the case of the Metropolitan Healthcare Center, where three previously independent centers were merged into one, and follow the individuals who were appointed to ensure the integration of a new, mutual information system across the three center sites. We draw on a practice perspective and the notion of symbolic capital to shed light on post-merger practices and their outcomes. Our analysis suggests that one of the change agent’s practices of boundary consolidation through influence tactics were legitimized through discourses of authoritative knowledge and ‘group-making’. This facilitated the construction of symbolic boundaries between the merging parties, thus contributing to the resilience of pre-merger practices despite the planned intention to create change.

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