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Change and Culture Case Study Essay

In tough economic times, companies are looking for ways to continue to provide services and products to the public without compromising quality and efficiency. When it comes to smaller businesses, or businesses that provide the same product or service, it is often wise to merge the companies together to form a stronger, more stable structure. This will take place when Frithsen Physical Therapy merges with Select Physical Therapy. Select Physical Therapy is a national corporation that provides physical therapy as well as aquatic therapy, occupational therapy, athletic training outreach and long-term care services. For the past decade Frithsen Physical Therapy has seen Select Physical Therapy as a fierce competitor that provides less than quality care to its patients.

Frithsen Physical Therapy has been well known in the community for providing care in a professional and personal way. Many employees are afraid that merging with a large corporation will change the way they work, causing the quality of patient care to decrease. Middle managers will become essential before, during, and after the merge to ensure that every employee from each company understands the vision for the new corporation and is willing to compromise to make it a reality. The combining of two companies is no easy task and will change the shape and culture of both companies, until a new one is born. Processes such as communication, hiring, patient care and record keeping will change to accommodate the growing corporation, in hopes it will become more effective than either company was on its own.

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Merging two companies is a delicate procedure, requiring compromise and patience. Each company has built a certain culture over its existence, and each one believes that their culture is best. In reality, each company has certain services or tasks that they perform better than the other. In the instance of Select Physical Therapy merging with Frithsen Physical Therapy, the culture of the new, combined company will be similar to the cultures put in place by each company separately.

However, it is important to create a new culture, differing from the previous ones, to promote a sense of teamwork and camaraderie. If this step does not occur, everyone will continue to work in his or her own culture, which becomes divisive, causing the company to be pulled in different directions (Sherrill, 2001). In the first phases of combining the companies, the culture may be fragmented, with each company holding on to what they know. Many of the employees will be wary of the changes occurring around them on a daily basis and may resist certain adjustments (Stanwick, 2000).

A new atmosphere of open-mindedness and compromise needs to emerge for the blended company to be successful. When two companies are combined, there are bound to be differences of opinions between practitioners and administrators regarding polices and procedures. It is important to understand that each company brings something valuable to the table, and all ideas and opinions should be considered and discussed Avoiding a competitive stance will help employees from both sides see the positives of blending ideals and values, and ultimately encourage the birth of a stronger, more successful new culture (Stanwick, 2000).

To successfully combine two companies involves cooperation from all levels of management. As a middle manager in a merging corporation, there are different strategies and skills that will be necessary to ensure a smooth transition. The most important strategy will be communication. Before the merger occurs, it is important for middle managers to understand the new beliefs and values that upper management desires (Bolton & Lewis, 1998). Once middle managers understand the vision for the new company, they must pass it down to their employees. It is not enough to simply communicate the new vision; middle managers must begin practicing these changes immediately. Leading by example is the most effective way to produce results.

The middle managers in most companies are more approachable than top management; therefore it is imperative that middle managers are on board with the new vision of the company and display this in a positive way. While the merger is occurring it is essential to build a team atmosphere, full of open communication, honesty, and teamwork. Each employee from both companies should feel as though their positions is important, and their cooperation is essential to the success of the forming company.

Once the merger is complete, it is all about the new culture, staying visible, approachable, and communicating information early and often (Bolton & Lewis, 1998). Aside from ensuring employees are blending well, it is important to focus on patient care. There will be changes implemented at every phase of the merger, but it is important not let misunderstandings, or issues within the staff affect the quality of care given to the patients.

Once the merger has been finalized and integration is complete, middle managers need to assess their staff to be sure that each employee is doing his or her part to make the merge as successful as possible. If there are employees who are resisting the changes being made within the company, or not buying into the new culture and vision, it is necessary to evaluate the situation and decide what is best for the team and the company as a whole. Middle managers must not forget to consider the employees feelings when situation such as this arise.

Often times, employees resist mergers because their identities are closely tied to their jobs, and they like to experience continuity of their identities. Giessner (as cited by Sidle, 2006) noted that mergers would challenge this continuity, leading to distress and anxiety from employees. When middle management can understand the feelings of their employees, they can be better equipped to handle issues that may arise by allaying fears or implementing strategies to make employees comfortable with their new roles.

Even if all employees from both companies are comfortable with the combining of their two organizations, upper management has the daunting task of reworking its current systems and procedures to include the best strategies from each company. In the case of Frithsen Physical Therapy and Select Physical Therapy, the former’s employees will see the most changes. Frithsen Physical Therapy is a small corporation, covering New England, while Select Physical Therapy is a national corporation, encompassing more services and a variety of clinicians. Along with physical therapy services Select Physical Therapy offers occupational therapy, aquatic therapy, long-term care facilities, and a large athletic training outreach program.

This will require managers from Frithsen Physical Therapy to be in charge of more people, and perhaps different clinicians than they are accustomed to working with. The shape and systems currently used in the company will have to shift in order to fit a larger scale of business and a more complicated hierarchy. The regional managers from Frithsen Physical Therapy reported directly to the President of the company, whereas the regional managers of Select Physical Therapy report to one of ten executive managers, who then report to the CEO of the company. The clinic managers of Frithsen Physical Therapy were able to see all of the employees they supervise on a daily basis, working side by side.

With the inclusion of the vast athletic training program, they will now be responsible for knowing which athletic trainers report to their clinics, and what schools they are assigned to. There will also be a manager of athletic training services that they will need to communicate with about referrals and business relating to the relationship between the schools covered and the clinics in the area. Due to this more intricate hierarchy, the employees of Frithsen Physical Therapy will see a dramatic change in how they communicate with upper management. Under their old organization, there was a relatively straight path to the top, with only a few levels of management until they reached the President. Communication could be done easily by telephone or in person, and most employees had met each other face to face at one time or another.

In the new organization, there will be a need for a more formal kind of communication. In organizations communication tends to be directional, moving upward, downward, diagonal or lateral (Leibler & McConnell, 2008). Frithsen Physical Therapy was used to mostly lateral communication, discussing issues with other managers or sharing notes about a particular patient’s care. With the merger, the managers and employees will mostly be communicating upward, providing detailed reports to their supervisors, who will then provide reports to a higher supervisor, and so on.

This will require attention to detail and more paperwork for the managers at every level, which will change the way the managers handle issues that arise within their department. With the inclusion of new services and a goal for comprehensive care, comes the call for new positions and alterations to old ones. A need for more middle management will arise, and more staff will be added to accommodate the growth of services while still maintaining exceptional patient care.

In conclusion, there are many factors to consider when combining two organizations. It may make sense financially and logically to combine two entities that provide similar services. However, it is important to understand that not only will it be difficult to combine two cultures; it will also take time for employees to adjust to a new chain of command and new policies and procedures.

Middle managers will play an important role in the blending of two corporations. They need to remain positive, lead by example, and possibly sever ties with employees who do not fall into line with new visions and ideas. An increase in communication will help make the transition successful, and ultimately all employees will reap the benefits from such a merger.


Bolton, J.M., & Lewis, B. (1998, Jan/Feb). The challenge of merging and consolidating organizations. Journal of Management in Engineering, 14(1), 9-10. Academic Search Complete.

Leibler, J.G., & McConnell, C.R. (2008). Management principles for health professionals (5th ed.). Retrieved from The University of Phoenix eBook Collection database.

Sherrill, T. (2001, May). Creating a can-do culture. New Zealand Management, 48(4), 17-21. MasterFILE Premier.

Sidle, S.D. (2006, August). Resisting the urge to merge. Academy of Management Perspectives, 20(3), 115-118. Business Source Complete.

Stanwick, P.A. (2000, Jan/Feb). How to successfully merge two corporate cultures. Journal of Corporate Accounting & Finance, 11(2), 7-11. Business Source Complete.

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