Organizational slack, experience, and acquisition behavior across varying economic environments

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20 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to examine the effects of the organizational slack and acquisition experience on acquisition behavior across varying environmental conditions. Drawing from behavioral theory and the threat-rigidity hypothesis, the paper explores firm acquisition behavior, in terms of type of acquisitions, before and during the recent economic downturn. Design/methodology/approach – Using data on 385 acquisitions in Italy in the period 2007-2010, the paper tests hypotheses on how organizational slack and acquisition experience influence the likelihood of cross-border and diversifying acquisitions relative to domestic, non-diversifying acquisitions prior to and during the economic downturn. Findings – Results suggest that the availability of financial resources and acquisition experience both have an important influence on acquisition behavior. Firms with greater slack and acquisition experience were more likely to make diversifying and/or cross-border acquisitions, compared to domestic non diversifying acquisitions, particularly during an economic downturn, than firms with lower levels of slack and acquisition experience. Originality/value – The paper extends behavioral theory and threat-rigidity hypothesis, highlighting their applicability to acquisition behavior across varying economic conditions. Slack resources and acquisition experience appear to be particularly salient during challenging economic times.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)967-982
Number of pages16
JournalManagement Decision
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • economic downturn
  • firm experience
  • mergers and acquisitions
  • organizational slack


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