Acquisitions From a Trajectory Perspective: Organizational Competence to Deliver Successful Post-acquisition Integration

Kristian Kjeldsen Nyegaard & Margrét Erla Ólafsdóttir

Student thesis: Master thesis


Digitalization and robotization continue to encourage organizations to exploit opportunities in automating jobs and expanding across functions and supply chains. These trends put pressure on organizations to reduce costs, maximize efficiency, and outperform competitors. Consequently, organizations start looking to mergers and acquisitions (M&A) as a means to achieve synergistic effects. The annual number of M&A deals and investments continues to skyrocket, and ongoing technological developments will only amplify their proliferation. Nevertheless, for many of these deals, the projected benefits are never realized, as organizations struggle with overcoming challenges that emerge during integration of their newly acquired companies. This creates a need to establish what competencies organizations need to be equipped with in order to realize desired M&A benefits. Dealing with something so beneficial, yet challenging to achieve, this thesis ponders: How does an organization make successful acquisitions? To date, the majority of existing research exploits a resource-based view of the firm to identify what competencies are useful in successfully acquiring and integrating companies. While organizations continue to fail in their M&A efforts, we seem to need an alternative way to approach the recipe for success. We suggest that such study requires scrutiny of the acquisition process, unfolding all its complexity, challenges, and uniqueness. With this objective, we did a qualitative case study of a Danish printing organization, A/S, which has done 16 acquisitions in the past five years. Data collection involved nine semi-structured interviews with a focus on LaserTryk’s procedures and methods of acquiring companies, analyzed through the perspective of a trajectory, introduced by Anselm Strauss. Such analysis divides the acquisition trajectory into what actors plan to do, what they do, and where things go off course. This allows for categorizing contingencies, deriving concepts that explain the ways in which they are managed. Results involve a description of an acquisition trajectory, which combines researchers’ perceptions and involved actors’ perspectives. Implications of the results underline that acquisitions are highly shaped by involved people, who cannot always predict the outcome of the deal. Instead, actors must develop competence to adapt or respond to unforeseen changes in the process.

EducationsMSc in Business Administration and Information Systems, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2018
Number of pages288
SupervisorsStefan Henningsson