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Relative and perceived assessments of speed(s) during post-merger integration: A longitudinal, qualitative study.

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

  • Mark Thomas
Publication date15/03/2021
Number of pages305
Awarding Institution
Award date15/03/2021
  • Lancaster University
<mark>Original language</mark>English


PMI). Choosing the appropriate speed is recognized as being one of the most important decisions during this process. However, despite a growing body of literature on integration speed, our understanding of how it should be managed remains incomplete. In addressing this issue, this study answers the numerous calls to understand the PMI process in a more comprehensive manner through the use of nuanced investigations of the role of speed and rhythm in PMI events (e.g., Graebner at al. 2017). Bauer (2015) has identified three key areas that are under-researched in the M&A literature related to speed of PMI. They are (i) the speed-performance relationship, (ii) factors influencing speed of integration and (iii) the measurement of speed of integration. Focusing primarily on the issues (ii) and (iii), this dissertation will take a perceptual and relative view of speed. During a 30-month longitudinal study of two merging not-for-profit organisations, data was gathered from 10 distinct sources. This offered the possibility for robust, triangulated data analysis and theorisation. Hence, this dissertation develops a novel and detailed methodology for measuring the varying speeds of PMI rather than aggregated speeds that are often presented in cross sectional studies. This study also shows that understanding integration speed(s) is complicated by employees demonstrating inconsistent attitudes towards fast or slow PMI. Notably, their perceptions of the speed of PMI may vary in accordance with their involvement in the decision-making process. This study identifies the Parmenidian Principle of speed of change and discusses its implications for the management of the PMI process. A second issue is that managers may advocate one set of temporal structures (a planned, linear change process) whilst enacting a different set (i.e., a more seemingly emerging, opportunistic approach). This leads to accelerations and decelerations in PMI speed. A key mechanism, a kairotic switch, is identified. This study demonstrates how this is used by managers in practice and its impact on the speed of change. The findings enable a deeper understanding of temporal dynamics during the PMI process. By determining that key decisions may be undertaken according to subjective measures and perceptions, this dissertation brings a richer assessment of speed. From a broader management perspective, this dissertation thus adds to our knowledge of the causes of the disconnect between intended and realized strategy.