Fight Global Assimilation! Cultural Clashes in Cross-National Mergers and Acquisitions
Cross-national merger and acquisition (M&A) activity is common and is argued to be a strategic tool for the growth of multinational corporations. Yet, M&A activity has a high failure rate which theorists have explained being due to cultural clashes. Previous research has explained these clashes being due to cultural distance. Other studies have focused on the extent to which the firms are culturally integrated and its relation to cultural clashes. In this study we investigate the relation between cultural distance and the extent to which the firms are culturally integrated as we believe that this relation in turn influences how cultural clashes are perceived by managers.
As the human side of M&A has become of great interest within research we stress the importance of understanding what happens with managers in the organization during the post-acquisition process. The purpose of this thesis is therefore to investigate the managers’ perception of cultural clashes, in relation to the perceived extent of cultural integration and perceived cultural distance, in cross-national mergers and acquisitions.
In order to achieve an in-depth understanding of a series of cross-national M&As and to answer the purpose of this thesis, a qualitative case study design was used. Semistandardized interviews were made with ten managers from a Swedish firm that has gone through a series of cross-national M&As involving Swiss, French and German managements.
The findings show that managers’ perception of cultural clashes differs depending on to what extent two firms are culturally integrated and in relation to the cultural distance between the two firms. No matter if high or low cultural distance managers perceive few cul-tural clashes if the extent to which the firms are integrated is low. If the cultural integration, on the other hand, is high and the cultural distance is high, the cultural clashes are perceived as many. Our findings indicate that cultural clashes are perceived differently depend-ing on how they affect the managerial role and the organizational behaviour. We refer to these clashes as implicit agreements and explicit statements. Clashes in implicit agreements are evolved from behaviour deeply rooted in national culture and corporate culture. These clashes have minor effects on the managerial role and the organizational behaviour. Never-theless, managers need to be aware of the differences and adapt to the preferred behaviour when interacting with the acquiring firm’s management. Explicit statements, on the other hand, affect the managerial role and organizational behaviour and lead to cultural clashes that conduce to frustration, lack of motivation and inefficiency. These clashes are more ap-parent when the extent of culturally integration is high. Therefore, the acquiring firm should not attempt to assimilate its target company in cross-national M&As.
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