The Paradox of Post-acquisition IS Integration Preparation: Preparing under Incomplete Information

Peter J. Wynne, Stefan Henningsson

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingArticle in proceedingsResearchpeer-review


In this paper, we propose the paradox of preparation as a salient dilemma facing IT organizations in firms anticipating acquisitions or acquisition activity. The paradox of preparation originates in the need to start preparations for post-acquisition IS integration long before the legal combination is concluded, and the contradictory observation that only after the deal is concluded will it be known to the acquirer what they should have prepared for. Based on an in-depth, explorative study of how a large multi-national company prepared for an anticipated and later enacted acquisition with another large multi-national company, we develop a process theory depicting how this paradoxical tension impacts IS integration preparation activities in the period leading up to the acquisition. Initially, preparations are based on assumptions about the future challenge. As assumptions are confirmed or rejected, focus of preparation activities are recurrently revised. To handle uncertainty of assumptions, the firm actively considered the scope of possibilities and the universality of activities to manage the paradox of preparation.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 20th IEEE International Conference on Business Informatics. CBI 2018 : Volume 1 Research papers
EditorsHenderik A. Proper, Stefan Strecker, Christian Huemer
Number of pages10
Place of PublicationLos Alamitos, CA
Publication date2018
Article number8452658
ISBN (Print)9781538670163
ISBN (Electronic)9781538670163
Publication statusPublished - 2018
EventThe 20th Conference on Business Informatics. CBI 2018 - Vienna, Austria
Duration: 11 Jul 201814 Jul 2018
Conference number: 20


ConferenceThe 20th Conference on Business Informatics. CBI 2018
Internet address
SeriesIEEE Conference Series on Business Informatics


  • Mergers and acquisitions
  • Preparation activities
  • Information systems integration
  • Integration method

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