Chancellor Angela Merkel, McKinsey, and 1.1 Million Refugees

What role should the privately owned consulting firm McKinsey & Company play in helping Germany to navigate the logistics of its “open door” policy for Syrian refugees?

Bruce Kogut, Fabrizio Dell'Acqua  | Fall 2019
Print this page

In August 2015 German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced that Syrian asylum seekers who had already registered elsewhere in the EU would be allowed to come to Germany and to seek asylum. With thousands of refugees pouring into Germany each day, Merkel’s government hired the privately owned consulting firm McKinsey & Company to support the logistics effort. McKinsey’s logistic efforts achieved the main technical tasks that were measured by key performance indicators: Over 1.1 million people were lodged for the winter, their asylum applications were quickly processed, and they were given identifications and the status to stay legally in Germany pending the decision on their cases. However, some observers thought it was inappropriate for the state to rely so heavily on a third party, non-government advisor, especially one that charged very high fees. This case asks students to consider both the challenges of a growing global refugee crisis as well as the challenges inherent in public-private partnerships to help solve them.

Case ID: 200403

Buy select cases through Ivey Publishing and Harvard Business Publishing.

Contact us by e-mail at Columbia CaseWorks or 646-745-8495.