Lesson learned? : The utilization of learning in cross-border M&A integration
Abstract: Our purpose is to understand how learnings are drawn from previous experiences of cross-border acquisition integration, to later be utilized for integration of subsequent acquisitions. Elaborately, we intend to empirically study how learnings from previous endeavors are captured and built upon. Thus, there are two research questions given the sequence: learnings are first captured, then utilized. The study aims to extend current body of literature and deepening the understanding on deliberate learning through case study aspects. To answer this, we have constructed two research questions: (1) How can learnings be captured from previous experience in integration after cross-border acquisition? (2) How can learnings from previous experience of cross-border acquisition integration be utilized in subsequent deals? The founding pillars of our literature review are perspectives on M&A and perspectives on learning. More specifically, the first perspective focuses on cross-border aspects and post-merger integration phases. Regarding the perspective on learning, our study particularly focuses on deliberate learning theory. Beyond named focus is dynamic capabilities, serial acquirers and previous experience discussed due to its connection to deliberate learning theory and our study. The literature review concludes in a theoretical tool, which summarizes the literature and is portrayed through a model. The case study method was constructed with a qualitative and interpretive approach, which we found appropriate to reach a deeper in-depth understanding regarding the purpose and to answer our research questions. Six semi-structured interviews with managers were conducted to understand how they operated. We collected primary data by using snowball sampling and received secondary data of documentation from the studied firm. Further, this was qualitatively analyzed from a coding procedure of categories. Our findings disclose how previous experience of post-merger integrations in cross-border acquisition is deliberately captured by our case company through learning mechanisms discussed in deliberate learning theory. The mechanisms are accordingly articulation, codification, sharing and internalizing. However, the findings disclosed a discrepancy between the literature and our empirical case due to the rotation of integration team members, which caused a disruption in sharing and internalizing of previous experience. The contributions are both theoretical and managerial. First, the theoretical contribution is given through our revised theoretical tool, in which the findings regarding the different mechanisms are discussed and elaborated. The managerial findings provide recommendations in the assembling of an M&A integration team to preserve experience from previous endeavors and disseminate to new members.
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