Change and Continuity through Mergers & Acquisitions
I have lived through nineteen mergers and acquisitions and without moving companies, have signed eight employment contracts, all following M&As. Only two of the eight companies still trade, the others went bankrupt or shut down. My roles have been in engineering, sales, middle management and more recently a contributor at meetings where M&As were discussed and advisors attended. Despite professional advice, these M&As rarely turned out as planned including the envisaged growth and improvements. Often matters got worse, even for top executives. Yet, in both the literature and the way that people talk, businesses and individuals are portrayed as separate entities, M&As are aimed at changing only the businesses and are routinely associated with growth and improvements. My experience of M&As includes confusion about power and powerlessness, a sense of loss of valued relationships, identity issues and idealization of merged businesses. Using a narrative methodology and taking my experience seriously (Stacey and Griffin, 2005), I explore change and continuity through M&As and the experiencing of organizational upheavals. I also explore change in the idea of M&As and how we think of them. Drawing on complex responsive processes theory, I argue that we can enhance our understanding of change and continuity through M&As by exploring our experience of local interaction. Combined organizations as patterns of local interactions between people where these patterns emerge and evolve in the interplay of intentions, plans, actions and choices of all involved includes those between members of the merged organizations and between them and advisors, mediators, shareholders, competitors, customers, regulators and the media. To say that combined businesses emerge in this interplay is to understand change and continuity in terms of these evolving patterns of local interaction. These patterns include interpretations and conversations reflecting our ideologies, power relations, identities, idealizations and expectations about M&As. My expectations and reflections were influenced by and influence the discourse about M&As which I argue as social object evolves through our complex responsive processes of relating. Idealization of merged businesses, professional advice, the mainstream view of M&As as growth and improvement which amounts to ‘putting thought before action’ (Griffin, 2002: 25), all emerge and evolve through local interaction validating reflexive exploration of experience to enhance our understanding of change and continuity through M&As.