Integrating Merging Firms – The Importance of Informal Socialization in Merger Success

P.T. Whalen (USA)


Communication, merger integration, formal and informal socialization


This paper applies acculturation theory and the constructs of formal and informal socialization to explain the most appropriate implementation strategy for merger integration. Survey data on the communication tools used in nearly 400 recent mergers and acquisitions are analyzed, and the study concludes that, despite widespread emphasis on formal communications tools for merger integration, informal communications play a much bigger role in the successful outcome of the deals. The study also builds on a qualitative study to examine the importance of the motive behind the M&A for determining the best communication strategy and concludes that M&As driven primarily by financial synergy not only do not require cultural integration, but may suffer when management over-communicates to internal audiences. The paper concludes with a list of nine management strategies that the most successful M&As seem to have in common.

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