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I have multiple site collections that all have permission groups with the same names. When a user is added to a group in one site collection that change should be synchronized with all the other site collections.

What is the most effective way to do that?

I read that there are event receivers for such events in SharePoint 2013, but my environment is SharePoint 2010.

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In your situation, I would create ad groups and add those ad groups in the SharePoint groups. Because you have same group name across all site collection n permission on all site collection looks like same.

AD groups are easy no code solution, once you add AD groups in SharePoint then management operation is simple. simply add/remove the user in AD groups, SharePoint automatically add/remove the users. TechNet Article

Other than that I think you can some kind of powershell which add user across all site collections.

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You can write an event receiver in SharePoint 2013 to check if an user is added to a group and make other groups in sync. This feature is not available in SharePoint 2010.

Refer below for complete set of clarifications: http://www.timferro.com/wordpress/archives/tag/spsecurityeventreceiver

There is class inheriting from: GroupUserAddedFeatureEventReceiver : SPFeatureReceiver

That should work.

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