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Varieties of national metonymy in media accounts of international mergers and acquisitions

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>06/2011
<mark>Journal</mark>Journal of Management Studies
Issue number4
Volume48
Number of pages35
Pages (from-to)737-771
Publication statusPublished
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

International mergers and acquisitions (M&As) often invoke national identification and national cultural differences. We argue that metonymy is a central linguistic resource through which national cultural identities and differences are reproduced in media accounts of international M&As. In this paper, we focus on two revealing cases: the acquisition of American IBM Personal Computer Division (PCD) by the Chinese company Lenovo and the acquisition of American Anheuser-Busch (A-B) by the Belgian–Brazilian company InBev. First, we identify the forms, functions, and frequencies of national metonymy in media accounts of these cases. We present a typology that classifies varieties of national metonymy in international M&As. Second, we demonstrate how these metonyms combine with metaphor to generate evocative imagery, engaging wit, and subversive irony. Our findings show that national metonymy contributes to the construction of emotive frames, stereotypes, ideological differences, and threats. Combinations of national metonymy with metaphor also provide powerful means to construct cultural differences. However, combinations of metonymy with wit and irony enable the play on meanings that overturns and resists national and cultural stereotypes. This is the first study to unpack the deployment of metonymy in accounts of international M&As. In doing so, it also opens up new avenues for research into international management and the analysis of tropes in management and organization.