Social construction of organizational identity in mergers
Organizational members’ experiences of the merger process are socially constructed by their pre-understandings, perceptions and reconstructions of their own, and their merger partner’s identity. Their ability to see similarities between their professional and organizational identities influences whether or not a unified organizational culture develops. Even though different aspects of mergers and acquisitions (M&A) have been studied widely, longitudinal studies are still rare and limited attention has been directed at people’s real time experiences. The purpose of the study is to explore the socio-cultural aspects of organizational members’ merger experiences, focusing specifically on possible changes in personal interpretations and situational experiences as the merger develops. A longitudinal in-depth case study of two recent mergers in the Danish financial sector was carried out, building on interpretive and social constructionist traditions. 69 semi-structured qualitative interviews with 44 employees and leaders were conducted. The study finds that perceptions of “who we are” as an organization impact expectations and experiences of the post-merger integration process. The more similarly organizational members perceive that the merging partner’s professional identity is to their own, the more likely it is that organizational culture and feelings of community develop within the first year of the merger process. In addition, the longitudinal and real time design of the study unfolds new aspects of M&A processes by focusing on both employee and leader experiences. Its emphasis on the influence of identity construction and reconstruction in light of the current financial recession should interest scholars and practitioners involved in M&A.
Merger; Integration; Identity; Culture; Social construction