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Post-acquisition Integration as Sensemaking: Glimpses of Ambiguity, Confusion, Hypocrisy, and Politicization


  • Eero Vaara


Though many studies have examined post-acquisition integration challenges, they have mainly focused on rationalistic explanations for the difficulties encountered in post-acquisition integration. There remains little knowledge of how the 'irrational' features of post-acquisition decision-making may impede organizational integration. This study attempts to bridge that gap by examining post-acquisition decision-making from a sensemaking perspective. The paper presents an in-depth analysis of a merger between a large Finnish furniture manufacturer and three smaller Swedish furniture companies. By focusing on the sensemaking processes surrounding integration issues, we uncover four interrelated tendencies that illuminate why the frequent problem of slow progress during post-acquisition integration occurs: inherent ambiguity concerning integration issues; cultural confusion in social interaction and communication; organizational hypocrisy in integration decision-making; and the politicization of integration issues. Copyright Blackwell Publishers Ltd 2003.

Suggested Citation

  • Eero Vaara, 2003. "Post-acquisition Integration as Sensemaking: Glimpses of Ambiguity, Confusion, Hypocrisy, and Politicization," Journal of Management Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 40(4), pages 859-894, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:jomstd:v:40:y:2003:i:4:p:859-894

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    Cited by:

    1. Ashish Malik & Ralf Bebenroth, 2017. "Mind Your Language! : Role of Target Firm Language in Post-Merger Integration," Discussion Paper Series DP2017-15, Research Institute for Economics & Business Administration, Kobe University.
    2. Loréa Hireche Baiada & Lionel Garreau, 2014. "Exploring the dynamics of ethical judgment: The Sensemaking-Based Evolution Model," Post-Print halshs-01009708, HAL.
    3. Loréa Hireche Baiada & Lionel Garreau, 2014. "The dynamics of ethical judgment: an essay of modelization," Post-Print halshs-01009718, HAL.
    4. Satu Teerikangas & Olivier Irrmann, 2016. "Cultural Change Following International Acquisitions: Cohabiting the Tension Between Espoused and Practiced Cultures," Management International Review, Springer, vol. 56(2), pages 195-226, April.
    5. Albert Banal‐Estañol & Jo Seldeslachts, 2011. "Merger Failures," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 20(2), pages 589-624, June.
    6. Joseph A. Clougherty & Tomaso Duso, 2009. "The Impact of Horizontal Mergers on Rivals: Gains to Being Left Outside a Merger," Journal of Management Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 46(8), pages 1365-1395, December.
    7. Florence Allard-Poesi, 2015. "Dancing in the dark: Making sense of managerial roles during strategic conversations," Post-Print hal-01490734, HAL.
    8. Florence Allard-Poesi, 2015. "Dancing in the Dark: Making Sense of Managerial Roles during Strategic Conversations," Working Papers hal-01145772, HAL.
    9. repec:spr:jorgde:v:7:y:2018:i:1:d:10.1186_s41469-017-0025-y is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Bjursell, Cecilia, 2011. "Cultural divergence in merging family businesses," Journal of Family Business Strategy, Elsevier, vol. 2(2), pages 69-77, June.
    11. Timmers, A.D., 2010. "The perceived cultural changes and the changes in identification of the employees during a merger between two airlines," Other publications TiSEM a71f79cd-facf-445a-a0ba-4, Tilburg University, School of Economics and Management.
    12. repec:spr:manint:v:52:y:2012:i:3:d:10.1007_s11575-011-0099-7 is not listed on IDEAS

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