Experience and Learning in Corporate Acquisitions: Theoretical approaches, research themes and implications

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Abstract

In virtue of its longevity and its crucial relevance in shaping the competitive arenas, the phenomenon of mergers and acquisitions has unceasingly continued to pique the interest of academics, practitioners, and policy-makers. The intense acquisition activity throughout the decades has resulted in a steady scholarly effort to develop fertile conversations upon different aspects of this corporate strategic move with the aim of identifying a set of unambiguous factors that trigger value creation. Specifically, acquisition scholars have long tried to understand the circumstances that may be held responsible for value creation or value destruction following acquisition moves. At the core of most published articles lies the argument that firms substantially differ in terms of their ability to perform acquisitions. Because acquisitions, although mostly considered as infrequent events (e.g., Zollo 2009), may repeatedly occur during a firm’s life, scholars have started to wonder whether, if compared to first-time acquisitions, performance improvements may be obtained over time thanks to experiential learning effects (Barkema and Schijven 2008). Acquisition scholars have thus approached the role played by experience and learning with the intuitive expectation that they should have a positive effect on acquisition performance. More and more, it has been acknowledged that acquisitions require an impressively high set of dynamic capabilities (Winter 2003), among which learning from experience is presented as a key determinant both in a choice and in a process perspective, as capabilities are embedded in activities and routines and accumulate incrementally through experience (Anand and Khanna 2000). Within this corpus of literature, which started to emerge during the 1980s borrowing notions from the long tradition of psychology, attention has been devoted to experience as both a potential driver of acquisition choices and activity and as an intervening force that may contingently play a role in affecting post-acquisition performance. The extensive effects potentially associated with experience and learning have set in motion manifold queries in various domains, making the topic inherently interdisciplinary. At the same time, its intrinsically multifaceted and contingent quintessence has engendered evanescent findings, from which numerous intricate and unsolved puzzles seem to emanate. The profoundly inconsistent empirical results obtained have increasingly challenged the idea that experience automatically translates into learning and has provided a fertile territory of inquiry, upon which an entire branch of studies has proliferated. The field of strategic management has a long history of contributions, whereby the words “finally, knowledge of the source of takeover gains still eludes us” (Jensen and Ruback 1983, 47) seem to be true more than ever. Indeed, after more than three decades of literature on what still represents a hot topic in acquisition research, we are still quite far from reaching consonant conclusions. Indeed, not only are empirical results profoundly discordant, but also the varied theoretical perspectives used have collectively resulted in an increasing need to clarify the theoretical foundations upon which the investigation of experience and learning in acquisitions rests. The aim of this book is therefore to systematize the body of knowledge that has been built by the different scientific communities working on this topic and to identify regions of controversy and potential areas of cross-fertilizing conversations.
Lingua originaleEnglish
EditorePalgrave Macmillan
ISBN (stampa)978-3-319-94979-6
Stato di pubblicazionePubblicato - 2019

Keywords

  • Experience
  • Knowledge
  • Learning
  • Literature review
  • Mergers and Acquisitions
  • Organizational learning
  • Strategic decision-making
  • Strategic decisions

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