Utah Symphony and Utah Opera: Merger Proposal

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Utah Opera was started in 1976 by Glade Peterson, who at the inception of the company assumed the position of the general director. After the death of Peterson, Anne Ewers succeeded him as the general director. It was under the leadership of Ewers that Utah Opera recorded a monumental growth both customer wise and infrastructure wise. The company sought the services of Utah Symphony when it came to Orchestra.

Utah Symphony was established in 1940 by Maurice Abravanel, who assumed its leadership until his retirement in 1979. It was not until 1998 when the company after hiring Keith Lockhard as its music director recorded the highest growth ever by becoming the number one involved orchestra in the country. There has been a rare case of mergers by opera companies. The notable and exceptional mergers are Chattanooga Symphony and Chattanooga Opera, which merged in 1985 to eliminate the deficit and the Connecticut Grand Opera and Stamford Chamber Orchestra that merged their operations. Utah Symphony had a mission to provide perfect performances that were engaging, educating and enriching lives. The vision of the company was to be a Symphony destination of choice (Delong & Ager, 2005).

In 2002, it was decided that the two companies merge to take advantage of economies of scale. It was viewed that the merging of the companies could greatly raise the potential of the new company formed as it could benefit the advantages of its former companies. Anne Ewers assumed the leadership of the new entity.

Action Plan

Analysis of financial and leadership strengths and weakness of Utah symphony before merger and recommendations to Anne on steps of addressing the weaknesses.

Strengths of Utah Symphony

Financially, Utah symphony was booming in terms of performances. Its number of performances kept on increasing particularly in the period 1995-1996 and 2001-2002 where it recorded a performance increase of 23 percent. This increased performance was supported by the number of patrons attending the performances which was also high. The financial weaknesses of the company included decline in attendances due to a reduction in public subsidies and reduced endowment and investment income, which threatened the financial viability of the company. There was also stagnation of state, federal and local subsidies that led to decrease in arts appropriations. The mobilization skills was also considered another a financial weakness and this has made it hard to raise substantial funds to make it financially stable and to enhance its reputation since the board had used their funds to slump its financial, structure.

The leadership strengths of Utah symphony lay in the hands of Maurice Abravanel, who was an experienced maestro. As the director of music in Utah Symphony, he transformed the orchestra from a part time community ensemble to a full time widely known world-class Symphony. Under the stewardship of Abravanel, the orchestra was the first in Western U.S. to make international tours. Abravanel also managed to secure various recording contracts with labels like Fox, Vanguard and Angel. The major weaknesses in the leadership were that there was often uncertainty regarding the future of the company when it merged. Numerous leadership transitions affected the continuity of the company. Also the inability of Anne to tackle situations in problematic environments was considered as a weakness.

The following is the recommendations to Anne.

Anne should develop motivation theories, which can be applicable in the context of the merger; she should also acquaint herself with various forms of power and how she can apply them to avert conflicting interest that might result from the merger while asserting her influence. Anne should make use of the McClelland’s need theory to enhance the need for affiliation. This can be instrumental in supporting social associations between members of the two companies to enhance their continuity. Combination of budgets will imply that the new company will be operating one symphonic organization, which can enable it to reach a lot of contributors (Holtz, 2004).

Also Anne should realize that a merger is not easy since she has to bring two cultures together. For her to be successful she should seek the support of the community in order to succeed. She should also inspire the members of boards and be able to convince them that she is able to transform the merged entity. Her leadership should be collaborative one.

Analysis of financial and leadership strengths of Utah Opera before merger and recommendation of key steps to Anne on how to address the weaknesses.

The leadership of Utah Opera was considered to be a vibrant one. Under the leadership of Anne Ewers, the company recorded a lot of growth especially with regards to annual productions and audience. With her leadership, Utah Opera became a company that created opportunities for promising and upcoming artistic talents, and it helped nurture careers. Consequently, it was under the leadership of Anne Ewers that the company held regular performances as well as staging performances for several students to enable them appreciate Opera while nurturing them to be prospective client base of Utah Opera. Utah Opera Company benefited from the experienced leadership of Anne Ewers, who had helped revive Boston Lyric Opera when she served as a general director into a profitable company. Ewers had also served in San Francisco Opera and in Canadian Opera Company. Anne was a reputable person in the Opera community, and this worked well with Utah Opera (Trompenaars, & Prud’Homme, 2004). There was fresh artistic direction following the appointment of Anne as the director which enhanced the company’s growing popularity due to its regular and above par performance leading to its expansion from three productions to four productions. Under the leadership of Ewers, the number of performance increased and new dimensions were added into its program.

The financial strengths of the company: the company benefited from financial help by locally and internationally based persons, foundations and corporations. Increased performances also resulted in increased volume of ticket sales, which strengthened the company’s financial muscle and also led to the growth of its endowment fund. Under the leadership of Ewers, the Utah Opera company, the company was considered one of the best in fundraising abilities and Ewers managed to solicit a lot of money from outside the state.

The following are the recommendations to Anne:

Anne should understand the cultures of both organizations to enhance her excellent communication as well as facilitating her relationship with stakeholders. Consequently, Anne should understand and develop market synergies based on the two organizations. The best kind of leadership that Anne should adopt is a collaborative leadership so that she can be able to manage the interests of different parties that come with merger. Due to government’s unwillingness to fully fund Operas and symphony, it is imperative that Anne enhances her fundraising capabilities.

Analyze four aspects of score card for each company: how the score cards represent cultures and visions of the company.

For a business to survive, it is imperative that a company should manage its financial measures as well as the non-financial measures. This can only be achieved through development of a balanced score card which will drive and guide the operations of the business.

Utah Symphony Score Card

Utah Symphony had a vision of being a world-class symphony and to develop a business model that would be geared towards the provision of concerts of a higher quality which would sustain approximately 83 full time musicians on a contract basis.

Customer Satisfaction

With regards to customer satisfaction, the strategic goal of Utah Symphony was to familiarize themselves with the needs and desires of the customers to facilitate their objective of wanting to give them a world-class performance. The critical success factor with regards to satisfying the needs of their customers was for them to hire personnel of high talent which was a requisite for quality services. Customer satisfaction was measured by basing the performance of a company on the feedback received from the existing customers or patrons.


Utah Symphony had the objective and a strategic goal of being a financially stable and profitable company. The critical success factor identified by the company was to enhance its fundraising capabilities to allow for consistently constant prices for tickets throughout the year. The goals and the success factors could only be measured by gauging the degree of the profit margin increase realized every financial year.

Internal Process

With regards to the internal processes of the company, the company had a strategic goal of being flexible towards reducing expenses, which could arise from fundraising gaps. The critical success factor with regards to the internal process was to facilitate the renegotiations of contracts with the musicians and other artists. The strategic goal and the success factor were measured based on the degree of a company’s profitability.

Learning and Growth

The strategic goal concerning the learning and growth of the company was to widen the number and frequency of symphonies provided by the company to increase its appeal and attract more patrons and variety of an audience. The critical success factor with regards to this was to develop a strategic market campaign which would be successfully run on all media that would promote dissimilar symphonies to enhance its appeal on the younger audience. These could be measured by analyzing the trend of ticket sales and gauging the numbers of returning audience. The above indications from the scorecard clearly illustrate the determination of the company to be a world-class symphony.

Utah Opera Scorecard

Utah Opera had a vision of being a prominent and trademark opera house nationally. This was to be based on a business model that was geared towards improvement of performance quality as well as adding to the endowment funds. The following will be the basis of the scorecard of Utah Opera.


Financial wise, the company had the strategic goal of being a financially stable by having an incremental reserve fund. The critical success factor with regard to this was to raise additional funds and developing a growth path geared towards realizing its endowments. The goals and success factors were measured by having an increased reserve fund amount.


The strategic goal of the company with regards to customer satisfaction was to develop a regionally and nationally acclaimed opera performance to attract a lot of customers. To achieve these, the company was driven by the strategic success factor of excellence in their quality performance. These two can be measured by having an all or nearly all sold out performances. In the modern business environment, it is those businesses that offer good services that can attract large client base. Customers’ tastes change with value and customers are driven by the desire to acquire value for their money (Timm, 2011).

Internal Process

The strategic goal of the company concerning the internal process was the attraction of top talent as well as maintaining the financial stability of the company. This could only be achieved by having successful negotiations with the appointed performers as the critical success factor of the company. The goal and the success factor can be measured by reviewing the level of performances while measuring the degree of company’s profitability.

Learning and Growth

Concerning learning and growth of the company, the strategic goal of the company was to deliver high-quality performances like five shows annually. This could be achieved via the success factor of measuring the growth of the endowment fund and increasing the volume of ticket sales. The parameter used to measure the level of learning and growth was the creation of capital requirements that was cushioned by the revenues from ticket sales.

Do the scorecards address the strengths and weaknesses mentioned above?

The scorecards clearly address the weaknesses that have been seen to threaten the success of the merger and the prosperity of the new company. The scorecards illustrates what the company wishes to achieve, its targets and goals.

Score card for the merged company based on strategic goals

The company which resulted from the merger had the vision of being a destination organization and had a mission of providing great performances that could be engaging, educating and, which could enrich the lives of the community.


  • Strategic goal: The merged company had the goal to be an enduring and a financially stable organization. The company has the objective of eliminating deficit, economize costs and to expand their artistic potential.
  • Critical success factors: Undertaking of rigorous campaigns to raise funds, broadening family support, explore other sources of funding and expand public funding.
  • Measure: The amount in reserve and endowment fund.


  • Strategic goal: provision of excellent artistic services
  • Critical success factor: provision of better services
  • Measure: gauging the number of patrons and audience who frequent the place after the first visit.

Internal Process

  • Strategic goal: To maintain trust and build a relationship between former members of the two companies.
  • Critical success factor: developing strong organizational values
  • Measure: the degree of harmony and cohesiveness between the employees

Learning and Growth

  • Strategic goal: Aligning with donor interest to enhance the accumulation of funds
  • Critical success factor: to present the best performance that can enable the company to maximize costs.
  • Measure: carrying out a periodic review of the number of performances held, number of audience attending and amount of revenue generated (Nils-Goran, Roy & Wetter, 1999).

Strengths and weaknesses of the merged company: based on four aspects of the scorecard

The strengths of the merged company

Financial Stability: The merged company stands a better chance of growing into a stable organization financially. This is because of the fact that there is a pooling of resources from the former two companies. The increase in scale of operation implies that there will be experienced economies of a scale thus deficit will be eliminated.

Huge Potential: The merged company has a broadened potential. It is a good position to carry out rigorous campaigns to raise funds including the use of public funding. By the fact that it was a merger between two great companies, the merged company stands a better chance for a massive funding through an initial public offering (IPO). The merged company has a huge potential in the massive talents it had accumulated from its former companies. The combination of the different skills from the management teams to the artists will lead to the emergence of a highly and specialized company in various fields which will steer the merged company to great heights.

Customer Base: The merged company will benefit from the customer base of the two companies. The wide customer base will therefore ensure that the merged company products and services have a ready and big market. The customers will stand to benefit as they will enjoy a variety of talents from the merged company. This will likely strengthen the popularity of the merged company.

Internal Process: The efficiency managing the internal processes of the merged company will be upgraded. This will be mainly because of pooling of management skills and talents. The best managers will be picked from the former companies and this will lead to the formation of a highly skilled and talented management team.

Learning and Growth: The merged company has a huge potential for learning and growth. Members from the former companies have unique talents and skills. The interaction of these members will result to a learning experience as ideas will be shared out. This interaction will therefore lead to learning and growth in the merged company.

The weakness of the merged company

Diseconomies of Scale: There is a possibility that the merged company might experience diseconomies of scale as it expands. This will likely be experienced in the areas of decision making processes as it might be lengthy and bureaucratic. This will deny the company the opportunity of taking advantage of making quick decisions.

Customer Base: The merger may come up with new ideas which may upset customer especially those who are conservative. This will likely reduce the scale of the expected customer base of the merged company and if it is severe it may affect the income of the merger company.

Talent Development: Due to the fact that the merged company has a huge pool of talented artists to draw from there is a likelihood that the company may choose to concentrate on the already mature artist at the expense of the upcoming artists who still need to be developed. This action may negatively impact on the future of the merged company.

Financial Stability: In as much as the merged company may boost of a stable financial position, it should be considered that the scale of expenses is proportionally increased. Being a huge company, the effect of the increased expenses may have an adverse negating effect on the finances of the merged company.

Probable emerging issues during the merger: finance, human resources, customer satisfaction

One of the financial issues that might arise from the merger is that the new company might require a lot of money to pay off for the retrenched employees at the same time to finance rigorous advertising and sales promotion that may result from the merger to publicize it as well as creating customer awareness.

With regards to human resource, mergers involve consolidation of various departments and sometime elimination of one of the HR departments; this might present the issue of layoffs of employees while the remaining employees might have a heavy workload. Concerning customer satisfaction, the merged companies might lead to dissatisfaction from consumers who were loyal to one of the firms due to lack of confidence in the new service or products from the merger. A consumer survey must be carried out so to gauge their perception regarding the merger (Kreitner & Kinicki, 2010).

To retain the staff of both organizations, there was a problem of drafting an accommodative organizational chart of the merged entity. There existed suspicion between the staff of the merged entity since no one would have wished to lose his position. The feeling that Utah Symphony was better than Utah Opera was weighing heavily against the merger:

The Utah Symphony was by far the leading orchestra in the eight Rocky Mountain States and among the 20 leading orchestras in the country; Utah Opera, on the other hand, was a good regional opera company, but it had not yet reached the status of the symphony. (Delong & Ager, 2005, p. 7)

There were also concerns about the dissimilarities of the two organizations based on scale and action.

Mitigating Actions

The retrenched employees should be paid in installments. This will reduce the amount of expenses that the company will need to handle at once and therefore make it possible for it to handle urgent issues such as the financing of the rigorous advertising that needs to be carried out.

The company should develop some non-financial incentive for the employees to appreciate the employees. Such incentives may include preparing entertainment concerts free of charge for family members of the employees. This will likely motivate the employees to work hard despite the heavy load they may face at the workplace.

There should be periodical opinion surveys to gauge what fans think of the new company and specifically of its concerts. Views gathered from such surveys should be considered to avoid fans’ disappointments and complains.

There should be periodical internal meetings in the company to iron out any complaints. All the employees should be encouraged to view the company as their own and as a single company but not as two companies in one. The senior management should foster equality by giving all the employees fair chances in everything regardless of the company they worked for in the past.

Recommendations: the new company should utilize its original relationships while forging new ones. The company should maximize on the economies of scale by implementing various strategies that will reduce costs. The merger should also encompass all the cultures of the two companies. The company should perform a public awareness campaign to enable the prospective and already existent audience to accustom themselves with the new company. The company should ensure that it meets all the expectations of its clients so as to create a great image before the public. A vivid organizational chart should be draft in order to accommodate staff from the two previous companies. Such a draft should clearly spell out the duties of the various managers and they should be organized in such a manner that cliques are not formed especially from former companies.


Delong,T & Ager, D. (2005). Utah Symphony and Utah Opera: A merger proposal. Harvard, MA: Harvard Business School.

Holtz, S. (2004). Corporate conversations: Guide to crafting effective and appropriate internal communications. New York, NY: Amacom.

Kreitner, R. & Kinicki, A. (2010). Organizational behavior (9th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.

Nils-Goran, O., Roy, J., & Wetter, M. (1999). Performance drivers: A practical guide to using the balanced scorecard. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley.

Timm, R. (2011). Customer service: Career success through customer loyalty (5th ed.). New York, NY: Prentice Hall.

Trompenaars, F., & Prud’Homme, P. (2004). Managing change across corporate cultures. Mankato, MN: Capstone.

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