"Analysing the game. Factors at play in municipality amalgamations."

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This thesis was based on a research into six municipality amalgamations in order to gain insight into factors that are at play in the process of a municipality amalgamation. Municipality amalgamations have been happening for ages, but clear insights into the factors at play seems to be missing. The national government encourages municipality amalgamations. Since municipalities receive more and more tasks from the national government under the motto “Decentraal wat kan, centraal wat moet” (decentral when possible, central when necessary), smaller municipalities struggle to offer the services and have to deal with fragile organisations. In this thesis literature from Merger & Acquisition research was combined with existing literature and research into municipality amalgamations. The process of an amalgamation was explained, motives for amalgamations were named and factors that research have shown are of importance in a merger have been identified. After this the method of this research was explained. The research was based on interviews with key players in the amalgamation processes and documents of the amalgamations, namely the amalgamation advice and the strategic vision. The analysis followed, after which the conclusion followed. In the conclusion five propositions were formulated in which lessons learned from the interviews and the literature were stated. Five factors have been found to be of importance during a municipality amalgamation, namely motives, partner selection, personal relationships between key players, external advisors, and foundation among stakeholders. The propositions are as follows: Proposition 1. Having similar motives is not as important as sharing the same vision of the new municipality. Proposition 2. Personal relationships of key players in an amalgamation are most important in amalgamations between equal partners (equal in issues). Proposition 3. In amalgamations between municipalities with issues and municipalities without issues, promises made by the latter municipalities are key in the partner selection. Recommendation 4. It is important to discuss what information is necessary for the amalgamation process before starting the amalgamation process. Proposition 5. Hiring an external advisor is important in order to bring knowledge and experience in the amalgamation and to preserve the equivalency. Proposition 6. Communication with citizens is more important in the smaller original municipalities in comparison to communication with citizens in the city municipalities. Keywords: Municipality amalgamation – Mergers – factors.
Faculteit der Managementwetenschappen