Introduction by the editors
ANOTHER BOOK on mergers and acquisitions (M&As)? At the dawn of the new millennium, the number of books and articles and the amount of business media attention devoted to these undertakings has in fact closely paralleled a wave of M&As of hitherto unknown scale and global reach. However, a wide body of evidence gathered by academics, management consultants and company executives strongly suggests that the failure to manage the integration of both partners after the deal is done is behind the dismal track record of most M&As.1 Nevertheless, it is rather surprising that very few authors have actually presented systematic, pragmatic evidence of what makes M&As successes or failures from the perspective of implementation.
This book presents fresh, substantial and pragmatic evidence on a series of implementation issues that are central to the success or failure of international M&As. Most of the contributing authors are professors at IMD - the leading business school in international executive education - with strong experience as international consultants, business researchers and company executives. The authors have worked directly with executives from high-profile global M&As within a variety of industries, ranging from automotive to financial services, pharmaceuticals to media and entertainment. The resulting wealth of experiences, insights and expertise have been shaped into this book.
The content of the book applies to all types of international M&As that are motivated by the need to combine the significant strategic resources of the joining companies after the deal is done. These typically include technologies, fixed and intangible assets, business knowledge, infrastructural
1 For examples see:
> Morosini, P. Managing Cultural Differences, Pergamon, Oxford, 1998
> `The Case Against Mergers.` The Economist, 4 January 1997, (cover story)
> `Most Mergers Don't Work.` Business Week, 30 October 1995; (cover story)
resources and, especially, people. M&A undertakings that are largely motivated by financial risk diversification, entrepreneurial experimentation, exceedingly narrow functional learning and the like are therefore outside the main focus of this volume.
What makes this book different?
In this book we have intentionally departed from the theoretical, reductionist and merely normative views that have so far pervaded the majority of contemporary M&A literature. Rather, our work contains compelling evidence from hard-nosed, pragmatic research that opens minds to new perspectives and dispels commonplace myths behind issues such as whether or not cultural differences need to be detrimental to the performance of cross-border M&As, whether such a thing as `mergers of equals` can in fact be implemented, and whether an M&A can actually be turned into an inspiring - rather than a largely distressing - experience for all employees involved.
From the outset, our aim was to provide path-breaking contributions to managers and practitioners involved in M&A activities internationally, on at least three dimensions. First, we provide new and compelling findings, especially in areas that are highly relevant to M&A implementation. Second, we present these original research findings in a pragmatic, managerial language that we hope reaches a wide, global audience of executives and practitioners involved in M&A. Third, we approach M&A issues from a holistic perspective, which makes them relevant to business executives and practitioners alike, rather than taking the largely analytical and sectoral perspectives that seem to be common to much of the specialized M&A literature.
Behind the diversity of M&A perspectives represented by the various authors, the discerning reader will doubtless recognize some overarching principles at work across all of the book's chapters. Among them are the idea that, particularly from an implementation viewpoint, M&As are to be conceived as broad, continuous and holistic managerial undertakings, rather than narrow, sporadic or purely strategic initiatives. There is also the perspective that cultural and organizational differences between the joining companies are potentially beneficial aspects to be managed by savvy global executives - as opposed to sources of managerial risk or detrimental factors per se. Furthermore, there is the consideration that swift, assertive and hands-on approaches to creating a `common glue` between the joining companies might provide all M&As with the most likely path to value creation and successful performance.