Case study: Merging Goverment Organizations

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This is the contribution for the Case study of group 3.

Merging Goverment Organizations

About the company

Our case study was about a merger of two goverment organizations. The goverment organizations had to merge on the basis of a minimum amount of residents and on geographical location. The different cultures of the organizations weren’t taken into account. This merge had to lead to inter alia cost savings and shared services through collaboration.

Graph showing the adaptive cycle in combination with this Case Study

We examined the merger of two goverment organizations. Organization 1 had just enough residents to be alone, but organization 2 wasn’t big enough. So, because Organization 2 was a small organization it was merged with organization 1. It was a geographical merge so the autonomy wasn’t taken into account.

Continue in the new situation (merger)

The merger of the organizations also established a new organization, with a new board and many employees in new positions, primarily in the layers of management but also in the executive levels of the organization.

The systems for both organizations were not always accessible because there was a jumble of different applications, who couldn’t run together. So, not all the information was available because some of the systems and applications weren’t accessible . Some employees were trying to do their jobs and store there information on their own hard disk (not on the systems). Many customers (residents) were disappointed because some data wasn’t available during the merge, and the customers had to wait.

A lot of uncertainty

Uncertain for all employees of the municipality because they didn’t know whether they could keep their jobs in the new organization. There was a lack of communication about what was happening and when, what this meant for the employees in their future. Employees complained against the management, while the entire management were in uncertainty as well because they had to apply for new job. Therefore there was a mutual conflict between the management, because many managers want to keep their current jobs. There wasn’t a proper process of change because of the lack of time. So, there was lack of communication, jealousy among the employees and insecurity for the employees.

Look before you leap…

The total different cultures clashed rather, they had a completely different systems and applications they work with and workingprocesses. External consultants have made the decision to mainly choose the systems of organization 1, instead of choosing new systems or systems from organization 2. The internal employees were not in control and were not heard, disappointments of employees as a result.

There were three reasons to chose the systems of organization 1: 1. They thought that the systems they worked with were usable in the new organization. They were proved in the past that they were succesfull to work with, although they were somehow outdated. 2. The decisionmakers were employees from organization 1 3. The decisionmakers were external workers who didn't excist in the new organization.

Decisions for the future were made by external employees, mainly from consultancy companies, who, after the merger, no longer worked for the organization. The entire Board, directors and (partially) management were replaced for the merger to a new organization. The new board of the directors and managers experienced the consequences of earlier decisions. For example: Organization 1 complained that there was no architecture during the merger. Now, two years later, the old architecture plans are back on the agenda and is the foundation of all projects.

Besides described above there was only priority given to short-term decisions such as the fastest possible implementation of the merger. For example the ”efficiency drive”, which was previously known before the merge wasn’t taken into account. The reason for this phenomenon remains unknown. An improvement is that these efficiency gains could have been made during the merger, as more time was taken for it. Know the efficiency drive must take place, as planned in 2013, employees will experience the same insecurity, because they could lose their job.

No harmonization

The people who had to accomplish the merger were the majority of organization 1. Many of the decisions were made by externals and people from organization 1. It wasn’t a proportionate and "fair" distribution. Therefore employees of organization 2 often talking about an "takeover" instead of a merger.

Even after the merger there was a struggle between the two organizations, continue what systems there would be chosen in the new organization. It was still the former organization 1 who had the power and decided which choices were made in favor of organization 1.You could call it an ordinary power struggle, organization 1 preferred to use their old systems because they were used to it and organization 2 had to adapt all this new systems. The merger was in the hands of organization 1 and particularly the externals from the former organization 1.

The cultural aspects: Organization 1 didn’t saw it as a takeover because, organization 1 explained, organization 2 didn’t had a structured architecture. In this way, it was more logical to keep the architecture of organization 1 indeed. Because of the time pressure of the merge there were no deliberate choices be made.

If they had taken more time before the merge they could make a new organization which would operate as one organization. The harmonization would be better and they would be better off as now. Look before you leap, because now they are still reconsidering the quick taken decisions who were made during the merger. Further, it seems odd that the externals had that much influence during the merger. From all the externals who had a great influence befor the merger, there was not only one who worked in the new organization.

Interview with the organization

The interview that we will conduct with our contacts at the government organization will be unstructured and open in nature. See some topics and preview questions below:

  • How does the crisis occur?
  • How did you react during the crisis?
  • How to get out of the crisis?

1. Was it difficult to continue the service during the merger?

2. What were the thoughts of the staff about the merger when it was announced and what they were during or after the merger?

3. Has this changed there minds during the merger?

4. Was he/she happy with the decisions about the merger?

5. Has the financial situation affected the relationships at the workplace or the in management?

6. How many people have no job or have another job received by the merger? How was the breakdown by the organizations?

7. How was the communication to employees about the future, before the merger took place? And during?

8. What went wrong?

9. Is the organization switched to new systems or are the current systems still in use? Or both?

10.Where the employees involved by these choices?