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The Effects of Mergers and Acquisitions on Research and Development in Technology Firms

By Mikael Ahlstedt and Jonathan Fransson


The frequency and economic value of cross-border mergers and acquisitions (M&A) has grown significantly during the last decades. In the same time, research and development (R&D) capability has been increasingly important for firms’ success. Current research on M&As is vast, and shows a surprisingly high failure rate, which is often explained by post-merger integration (PMI) problems. However, the research on R&D post M&A is understudied in comparison to other aspects of M&As. The goal with this study was therefore to widen the M&A research and deepen the understanding of PMI problems in the case of R&D, as well as eliciting how synergies from the M&A can be utilized for R&D. The research was based on a qualitative and explanatory case study. The empirical data for the research was gathered by performing three semi-structured interviews with persons in managerial positions in large technology-oriented firms that had been subject to M&As. In addition to the interviews, a literature review on existing theories was performed. The data from the interviews and the literature review was analysed by categorisation according to the guidelines of grounded theory. The results showed that the largest PMI problem for R&D was to harmonize different managerial strategies and working procedures of the merging parts. Several synergies for R&D were identified, the most notable one was that by combining different areas of knowledge, products in new business areas could be developed more efficiently by the new entity than if the merging parts were to do so on their own. It was learned that for an M&A to bring such R&D synergies, it is important to have an adequate mix of complementary- and substitutive technological relatedness between the merging parts. It is also important to have a clear integration plan that shows where different knowledge in the new entity exists and that focuses on R&D employee retention. Finally, it was also shown that following cross-border M&As, the R&D organization will be geographically dispersed which necessitates efficient managerial procedures to facilitate cooperation between R&D employees in different locations

Topics: R&D, M&A, product development, PD, synergies
Year: 2013
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