Resilient post-merger integration: a qualitative examination of the effect of employee and organizational resilience on post-merger integration processes and outcomes
Mergers and acquisitions (M&As) have long been one of the most popular tools for corporate strategic restructuring (Khan et al., 2020); however, they continue to have a high failure rate (Bodner & Capron, 2018, 2018; Datta, 1991). Given the complexity of integrating two previously separate organizations (Cording et al., 2008), the literature points to the high failure rate being associated with the post-merger integration (PMI) phase (Angwin, 2007; Kroon & Noorderhaven, 2018). This has prompted researchers to more deeply examine the processes underpinning the PMI phase, as an avenue for enhancing M&A success and for advancing M&A scholarship (Angwin & Meadow, 2015). An under-examined issue concerns the relationship between PMI (a context that often creates uncertainty) and resilience (that relates to managing uncertainty). The term resilience can be understood as ‘bouncing-back’ from failures and adversities and exists at individual and organizational levels (Linnenluecke, 2017). Research and theorization that links PMI or M&A with resilience remains under-developed, with existing work largely focused broadly on how M&A impacts employee resilience (Cho et al., 2017; Khan et al., 2020), instead of the implications of resilience for PMI. Given these gaps, this thesis involves a systematic literature review and two qualitative studies that are designed to collect granular data about how employee resilience and organizational resilience influences PMI processes in different industrial settings (i.e., telecommunications, banking) in a developing economy context.
This thesis consists of three studies, with a central focus on developing an understanding of post-merger integration resilience (PMI-R). The systematic literature review (Study 1) identifies the gaps in knowledge in prior research regarding relationships between resilience and PMI. The study systematically reviews 70 articles that enable an examination of how PMI processes can be successful with the support of resilience for employees and organizations. A typology is presented to navigate relevant related literature, which is nascent and fragmented, captured through a “zoom out” approach. A smaller sub-set of articles that focus on PMI and resilience are then examined under a complementary “zoom in” approach, offering a more in-depth thematic analysis. The review identifies key themes to formulate a definition of PMI-R, followed by outlining future research directions.
The first empirical paper (Study 2), entitled “Bouncing back during post-merger integration: The role of resources in supporting organizational and employee resilience”, adopts a qualitative case study approach that draws from work on both employee and organizational resilience to understand how the nature and deployment of resources influences how employees and organizations navigate the emergent challenges faced during PMI. To do so, the study integrates aspects of conservation of resources (COR) theory. Through a single case study in the telecommunications industry, qualitative data are drawn from 25 in-depth semi-structured interviews, a series of online observations, and documentary analysis. The findings develop an inductive model and offer a range of scholarly and practical implications.
The second empirical paper (Study 3), entitled “Post-merger integration resilience in the banking industry: The role of organizational identity”, examines how workers’ organizational identification is affected in the aftermath of PMI and how this impacts their resilience in the face of such changes. Through a single case study in the banking industry, qualitative data are drawn from semi-structured in-depth interviews conducted with senior managers, 17 company newsletters focusing on the PMI process, five non-participant observations (on-site), and other documentary analysis. The findings shed light on the impact of organizational identification changes on employees during PMI and help uncover the role of the organizational practices adopted during the PMI phase that build resilience.