Knowledge Transfer in Chinese Acquisitions of German Firms: A Promising Strategic Symbiosis?

Maximilian Forbach

Student thesis: Master thesis


This paper examines the special strategic relationship between Chinese acquirers and German targets. Chinese strategic-asset-seeking investments are a very recent phenomenon, which have attracted increasing attention in international business research, as well as mass media. Knowledge transfer in acquisitions has remained a prominent topic since the turn of the century at the intersection between knowledge management and acquisition literature. Based on five in-depth cases studies of Chinese acquisitions in Germany, this study addresses the question how German firms contribute as a source of knowledge to the internationalization of their Chinese acquirers. First, the strategic rationales behind the transactions are portrayed in detail. Second, a potential knowledge transfer in the course of the post-acquisition period is enquired. This paper concludes that Chinese and German firms choose to engage in those acquisitions, since the partner offers them valuable and complementary strategic assets. Furthermore, knowledge transfer does indeed take place at varying degrees. In general, the peculiar constellation between both firms has the potential for a promising strategic symbiosis. Nonetheless, the respective intentions behind the deal have to be aligned before. Additionally, several barriers have to be circumnavigated in the acquisition aftermath, such as cultural and language differences, varying educational backgrounds, or the retention of key personnel. The findings of this paper add to existing research, and provide useful insights for practitioners.

EducationsMSc in Business, Language and Culture, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2014
Number of pages93