Mergers & Acquisitions

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Free Article

From the Editor: Strategy in the Midst of Change

How do you develop strategy in a business environment characterized by rapid change and considerable uncertainty about the future? That’s a question that many executives in fast-changing industries face. The Fall 2014 issue of MIT Sloan Management Review features a special report on strategy in changing markets, with articles on creating new strategic narratives, capturing new opportunities and finding the right strategic role for a board.

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Creating More Accurate Acquisition Valuations

Deal markets can be “hot” or “cold,” and the state of the economy can bias executives’ evaluation of potential acquisitions. For instance, relying on discounted cash flow scenarios can bolster managers’ sense of confidence and create unrealistically low perceptions of uncertainty. Executives can mitigate valuation biases by having a checklist — the list tempers natural inclinations to focus on the value of growth options in “hot” markets and risk of investment in “cold” markets.

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Free Article

The 2014 Richard Beckhard Memorial Prize

This year’s winning article on planned change and organizational development is “Making Mergers Work,” by Hamid Bouchikhi and John R. Kimberly. The authors examine why mergers and acquisitions so often fail to achieve the results and synergies they promise. “Our work in this field has convinced us that there is no ‘one best way’ but rather four distinct paths that can be followed to achieve identity integration: assimilation, federation, confederation and metamorphosis,” they write.

Image courtesy of Flickr user zoetnet.

Making Mergers Work

For organizations to achieve the psychological synergies required to realize economic synergies from mergers and acquisitions, executives need to attend to a more complex set of identity issues. These issues define the essence of the entity and give employees a clear answer to the question “Who are we?” and external stakeholders a clear answer to the question “Who are they?” Left unattended, these identity issues will diminish engagement and will affect the performance of the merged entity.

Image courtesy of Flickr user Electrolux Design Lab.

Should You Have a Global Strategy?

Senior executives weighing strategies appropriate for today’s global economy will hear contradictory advice. Some say you need to move quickly, before competitors, to establish a worldwide presence; others cite data showing that this approach is often less profitable. The reality is that neither approach is appropriate for every circumstance. Therefore, executives need to understand when to pursue one route and when to pursue the other.

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Corporate Culture in the Numbers

Corporate culture has long been a vital, if elusive, element of a company’s success. Cost-cutting and entrepreneurial cultures, for example, have been credited for the long-term success of many companies. Conversely, culture clashes have been blamed for merger and acquisition failures and incompatible employees.

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Avoiding Lemons in M&A Deals

Many deals will fail to generate real value for shareholders of the acquiring company, and a good number will ultimately become wealth-destroying propositions. The fundamental problem lies in two inherent features of many M&As: the acquiring company’s struggle to value the target’s resources and the need for the parties involved to agree on a price. Research identifies three ways to help: selecting an alternative ownership structure, crafting a contractual agreement and utilizing information generated by other markets.

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Integrate Where It Matters

Many studies have shown that the most treacherous time in the failure-strewn business of mergers comes after two companies tie the knot, when they attempt to combine operations. Surprisingly, however, they often destroy value not as a result of inattention to detail but through excessive zeal in their integration efforts.

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Reducing the Risk of Acquisition

Multiple studies have revealed that over half of completed M&A transactions actually dilute shareholder value within the first year. In a recent white paper,“Fundamental Issues Surrounding Failed Acquisitions” (April 2002), co-authors Robert Stefanowski and Anshuman Ray explore the underlying environmental factors that frequently derail promising corporate pairings.T

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Shopping for R&D

With today's economy moving at the speed of light, it's no wonder that companies are increasingly choosing to buy the ability to innovate, rather than to develop it in-house. But technology-grafting acquisitions are risky business. Although some provide a jump-start on the competition, others turn out to be costly mistakes.T

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