What are the distinguishing features of mergers and federations?
Firstly, the most obvious distinguishing characteristic is at top-level decision making. In federations, it is typical to find decision making involving peer groups, selected on the basis of rank and to be representative of all federated organisations.
Thus there may be a Principals group, a finance group, a curriculum group and a shared services group as a very minimum. In merged organisations, there is clearer central authority and it is more likely to find groups mobilized by expertise rather than by representativeness.
Secondly, where partners in federations may have particular strengths in focusing on their immediate local communities and markets, merged organisations are likely to have particular strengths in taking a consistent regional view.
Thirdly, mergers make it easier to realize economies of scale, whereas federations may enjoy a wider variety of methods of working.
All organisation types rely on having strong bonds of trust for effective operation, but federations in particular rely on very strong bonds of trust amongst senior personnel to enable federal decision making to work.
This guidance was developed in 2012 and will be reviewed.
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