Integrating cultures in M&As

Understand what behaviours need changing and how to change them
By Bob Bundy
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 11/30/2006

Say the word “culture” around people familiar with merger and acquisition (M&A) deals and two reactions will be forthcoming. One, everyone will acknowledge how important it is to the success of the deal and two, everyone will proceed to offer a harrowing example of the consequences of a cultural misalignment they witnessed or experienced.

Yet, despite these accounts, very few organizations actually do something about culture during M&As. Why? Because “culture” is a problematic concept. It’s multi-faceted, “soft” and difficult to define and measure.

The problem often lies with the executives who simply don’t see the value of spending time and money on cultural integration and cultural change — at least, until they have been badly burned by it. As IBM’s Louis Gerstner wrote in his book,