Inter-municipal collaboration: More than the sum of its parts? Understanding how piecing by municipalities affects the intervention and its outcomes.

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An increasing number of municipalities in the Netherlands have to engage themselves in an inter-municipal collaboration because they are faced with more responsibilities and less budget. By collaborating, the municipalities hope to deliver better services and provide them more efficiently. Setting-up such a collaboration involves comprehensive organizational change. Accordingly, this research investigated how three Dutch municipalities changed and which interventions were required to overcome the hurdles they encountered during the implementation of the new infrastructure for the collaboration. A qualitative case-study approach was used to study this phenomenon. Moreover, the researcher chose a multi-methods design – consisting of conducting interviews and gathering documents – to collect the data; subsequently, template analysis was used to analyze it. The findings show that the change process was characterized by piecing, which led to various clashes during the implementation and negatively influenced the outcome of the intervention. Underlying the piecing seems to be the lack of motivation and readiness to change of the top management of the municipalities. The resulting resistance to change had to be removed to achieve the mutual objectives eventually. By providing all employees with transparent information about and giving them enough time to get used to the changes, most hurdles were solved.
Faculteit der Managementwetenschappen