The Culture Factor in Mergers and Acquisitions

culture merger acquisition

Have you ever been a part of a company merger, where your company acquired a competitor or your organization was acquired by another one? If so, you probably experienced the difficulty of such mergers or acquisitions to generate positive value for shareholders, owners, and employees.

12 culture change insights from a workplace culture consulting legend – Larry Senn Video Interview

Culture is not an initiative

One of the greatest business challenges is effectively changing a workplace culture.  What if it’s an extremely large, global corporation? Some might view it as an unsurmountable challenge.  Not Larry Senn. He has arguably been a part of more large-scale culture transformations than any other individual in the world.  He’s the founder and chairman of the culture-shaping firm Senn Delaney, a Heidrick & Struggles company.

I had the pleasure of interviewing him as part of his gracious support of, where he provides regular insights on best practices in culture change as one of our esteemed faculty members (see the full video interview – link).  The insights he shared, and his regular columns, should help us all more effectively manage culture change.

Mergers can be successful when culture is properly addressed

Culture U - Bruce Lee - MASTER File_2_25_15

Editor’s Note: This is part two of a two-part post by Larry Senn. Part one was posted on Feb. 23rd.

Successful mergers and acquisitions must be based primarily on strategic, financial and other objective criteria, but leaders should not lose sight of understanding and heading off the potential clash of cultures that can lead to financial failure. Far too often, cultural and leadership style differences are not considered seriously enough or systematically addressed.

A great deal of evidence indicates that the ultimate success of mergers and the amount of time it takes to get them on track is determined by how well the cultural aspects of the transition are managed. Yet executives generally spend quite a bit less of their time focused on this than other aspects of the deal.

Each of Us Has the Power to Overcome a Win-Lose Mindset in Mergers


Editor’s Note: This is part one from a two part post by Larry Senn.  Part two will post on Feb. 25th.

Every day in the news lately you read about the latest mergers: airlines, pharmaceutical companies, insurance companies, large retailers like Staples and Office Depot, all consolidating for so many business reasons. Some are successful and create flourishing companies that benefit stockholders and employee’s careers. But  here’s the really scary reality: It’s been well documented over many years that up to one third of mergers fail within five years, and as many as 80 percent never live up to their full potential. The main reason for this is what has been called ‘cultural clash’.