Case Study

Van Oord (A): Where land and water meet

12 pages
March 2008
Reference: IMD-3-1801

Van Oord is a large, global player in the highly competitive marine construction business that has been involved in well-known projects such as “The Palm” in Dubai. From its founding in 1868 in a small town in the Netherlands, Van Oord has focused on organic growth based on independence and entrepreneurship. Good, pro-active family governance and the process of developing a vision and sense of mission have been crucial precedents of Van Oord company strategy. This firm stands as a shining example that developing governance structures, a family constitution and clarifying succession and a shareholder structure into the future is a vital first step in setting corporate direction and achieving family and company objectives. In this way, both longer-term corporate strategy and family unity are addressed before a crisis arises. Family deliberations about what they did for a living, who they were and how they saw their future led to decisions to diversify into other water-related or construction-related businesses, under the motto: “We operate between land and water.” Then in 2003, Van Oord bought the dredging division of a public company twice its size, which is the starting point for this case series. Values and philosophy played an important role in approaching the 2003 merger with a workforce larger than theirs, different from theirs and a family vs. non-family business orientation. How will they integrate these cultures to come up with a cohesive whole so as not to detract from company value and thereby family wealth, remaining a leader in their field –also a family value?

Learning Objective

Developing and maintaining corporate culture in a global setting. The challenges and benefits to company strategy, corporate philosophy and purpose and family engagement following an M&A transaction. How doing the hard work of establishing robust family and corporate governance systems lays the groundwork for future decision-making processes.

Mergers and Acquisitions, Corporate Culture, Generational Transition, Family Constitution, Succession, Dredging, Marine Construction
Field Research
© 2008
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