Cultural differences and postmerger problems: Misconceptions and cognitive simplifications.

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Nordic Organization Studies / Nordiske Organisasjonsstudier, 1999, 1(2), 59-88.

Title: Cultural differences and postmerger problems: Misconceptions and cognitive simplifications.
Author: Vaara, Eero
Date: 2010-12-21
Language: en
Abstract: Researchers and practitioners have increasingly explained post-merger organizational problems with cultural differences, especially in the context of cross-border mergers and acquisitions. It is suggested here that cultural differences have great explanatory power in the context of post-merger change processes. There are, however, problems with a number of superficial cultural conceptions that are common in research in this area and in managerial rhetoric. This critical article provocatively delineates misconceptions widely held by researchers and practitioners in this field, which not only disregard cultural differentiation, fragmentation, inconsistencies and ambiguities, but further, illustrate a lack of understanding of cultural permeability and embeddedness in the environment, an overemphasis on abstract values and lack of attention to organizational practices, an overemphasis on initial structural differences and lack of attention to the new cultural layer, a lack of recognition of the political dimensions and a failure to recognize cultural differences as sources of value and learning. In this article, the theoretical problems associated with these misconceptions are examined and new conceptual perspectives suggested. The risks at stake for decision makers are also discussed.

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