Sensegiving and sensemaking in integration processes: a narrative approach to the study of international acquisitions

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    Abstract

    Most studies of mergers and acquisitions have a managerial tilt and are founded on shortvisits to the companies investigated. This essay is based on a longitudinal study of a companythat experiences a series of international acquisitions, giving voice to a wide range oforganizational actors at different hierarchical levels, interviewed at different points of timeover a period of six years. The collected narrative interviews are viewed as retrospectiveinterpretations of change processes in the acquired company, made by organizational actorsas parts of the plots they are continually constructing and revising to make sense of thecourse of organizational actions and events. Greimas' actantial model is used to systematizethe different plots that can be seen as results of both individual and collective processes ofselection, hierarchization and sequencing of organizational actions and events. It is arguedthat a narrative approach is well suited to clarify changing patterns of identification andjustification and to display different modes of storytelling. The narratological analysesmoreover illustrate that even central actors within an acquired company often have suchdifferent work-views and world-views that it may be problematic or even counterproductive ifupper-level management introduces corporate storytelling through conscious efforts withoutany negotiation of the different versions of stories told by the employees.
    Original languageEnglish
    Place of PublicationKøbenhavn
    Number of pages41
    Publication statusPublished - 2003

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