When Two Become One : The Post-acquisition Process in SMEs

University essay from Högskolan i Jönköping/Internationella Handelshögskolan; Högskolan i Jönköping/Internationella Handelshögskolan


In business today efforts are being taken in order to grow, while some firms slowly grow organically others decide to perform a merger or an acquisition (M&A). Firms performing M&As have a high failure rate and many times this is caused by a poorly handled post-acquisition process. Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) have, according to researchers, not the same ambition to grow compared to large firms, and the research area concerning the post-acquisition process is often from a large firm perspective. However, SMEs do perform M&As as well and therefore it is in our interest to investigate the post-acquisition process in SMEs and see how the post-acquisition process is performed in these firms.

The purpose of this thesis is to investigate the post-acquisition process in SMEs, this to highlight the SME characteristics in a post-acquisition process.

Our methodological approach in this study is hermeneutic. To collect empirical information we performed an interview study, where semi-structured interviews with the managing director or a member of the management team in four SMEs have been conducted. A model for analyzing has been constructed, which helped us to process the empirical information from a hermeneutic perspective.

The reason why the studied firms performed a M&A was to get access to a new customer base and to strengthen their market positions. The focus in the post-acquisition process has been on external value creation since the customers are highly valuated, and this can be related to the uncertain financial and environmental situation that SMEs experience. All firms in the study have chosen a high level of integration, though the planning in the firms has not been that extensive as the post-acquisition literature suggests. Further, several elements within the human resource area have been neglected in their planning, despite this three of the firms experienced a limited amount of resistance to change and this ought to be related to their SME characteristics. The employees are willing to follow the direction stated by the managing director, who has a high influence on the organization’s culture. In the firms we studied the centralization of power is one important element and the acquiring firms have preferred a unicultural organization, and in most cases a congruence con-cerning culture have occurred.

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