Utah Symphony and Utah Opera: a Merger Proposal Case Study

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Utah Symphony and Utah Opera: A Merger Proposal Case Study
William Bailey
As Chairman of the Board of the Utah Opera, William Bailey has a pivotal role in the Utah Symphony and Utah Opera merger proposal. Mr. Bailey seemed to understand the financial and operational differences of the two organizations. As he stated, “the opera had a reserve fund and was financially stable and because of the business model could be flexible and adjust the size of the opera or eliminate projects that had not reached their fund-raising goals. The symphony on the other hand, was a 52-week orchestra with no flexibility.” The merger may devastate the financial stability that Utah Opera currently enjoys. With the current financial state of the Utah Symphony, very close to being in a deficit situation, the merger will bring about a reallocation of funding from Utah Opera. For the employees, supporters, and members of the Utah Opera, this is a case of inequity. The business models of the Utah Opera and Utah Symphony are also opposites. Utah Opera has flexibility with regards to staging a show while Utah Symphony has a year-long timetable. William Bailey’s other concern is while the symphony would become a tier-one arts organization, this will be at the expense of the opera losing its identity. This is again an instance that will cause a feeling of inequity with the members and supporters of the opera. William Bailey could use Adam’s Equity Theory of Motivation to oppose the merger. “Feelings of inequity revolve around a person’s evaluation of whether he or she receives adequate rewards to compensate for his or her contributive inputs” (Kreitner & Kinicki, 2010). Based on this, William Bailey should oppose the merger considering how the opera employees, members, and supporters would perceive the outcome to be unfair. Members and supporters of the opera may result to reducing efforts and becoming disgruntled, difficult, unmanageable or even troublesome. This merger, its objectives, and possible results will cause people on the opera side to feel unfairly treated and will be highly inclined to feelings of disaffection and demotivation. People will be striving for fairness. At the moment, the merger seems to be for the benefit of the Utah Symphony. Looking at the financial viewpoint, the opera is currently stable and with better fund-raising results. If the merger transpires, the balance of effort and reward, and also the ratio of input and output, while the effort and input will be provided by the opera, the benefits will be enjoyed more by the symphony. Based on William Bailey’s comments, he weighed the possible benefits and disadvantages of the merger and the result seems to be reasonably unequal. The balance lies too far in favor of the Utah Symphony. Scott Parker

Being the mastermind and initiator of the proposed merger, Scott Parker, Chairman of the Board of the Utah Symphony, will need to get the support of Mrs. Carolyn Abravanel to bolster public support of the proposed merger. Mrs. Abravanel is the widow of Maurice Abravanel, the long-time music director of the symphony who took it from a part-time community ensemble to a world-class symphony, and for whom the symphony hall was named after. Mrs. Abravanel’s true motivation in opposing the merger was based on her comment during an interview: “Maurice [her husband] would never take second billing to anyone. He would be hammering the inside of his casket [about the merger]” (Delong T. & Ager, D., 2005). She is possibly objecting to the idea of the merger due to the possibility that her late husband’s position and standing with regards to his contributions to the success of the symphony will become second fiddle to the prominence of what the merger may bring. Her comment may also convey that the importance of the symphony will become secondary to that of the opera if a merger transpires. Either her concern is her husband’s standing or the symphony’s stature, but...
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