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Co-evolutionary integration: a complexity perspective on mergers & acquisitions

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Despite an apparently thorough ‘due diligence’ process, many mergers and acquisitions (M&A) still fail to meet pre-merger objectives. One of the main contributing factors is insufficient emphasis on post-merger relationships, and the development of an emergent culture to support the new organisational form. Two examples of M&A will be used to illustrate a successful and a dysfunctional application of post-merger integration, seen from a complexity theory perspective. An ideal post-merger integration, according to complexity, would resemble the creation of a child. It has some characteristics inherited from both parents but it has its own unique personality and identity. Yet in most cases the more dominant partner tries to impose its own culture, ways of working and procedures. It expects the dependent partner to adapt to these conditions, instead of facilitating reciprocal learning and coevolution between the partners. The paper will explore the differences in attitude of the two companies and identify some of the key contributing factors to successful co-evolutionary integration from a complexity theory perspective. It will do so by outlining the relevant characteristics to M&A, of organisations as complex evolving systems. It will finally propose that coevolutionary integration may be facilitated by using the logic of complexity and the co-creation of an enabling infrastructure.

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