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Managing boundaries in merger integration

By Derek O'Bryne


This thesis explores how boundaries can be changed during a merger. Change literature has generally assumed boundaries are an unproblematic aspect of organisation life; readily definable and easily changed. Evidence from the emerging field of boundary theory suggest otherwise with boundaries seen as socially constructed, complex and ever-shifting.\ud The thesis adopts an action-orientated methodology, drawing from three sources of theory building; existing theory, fieldwork and from practice. Defining boundaries as any difference between groups, the thesis categorises boundaries as physical, behavioural and cognitive and uncovers specific tensions that are unique to each boundary category and which require specific management interventions to resolve. Developing these insights, the action research study, a five-year process of merging two hospitals, explored how boundaries changed in practice, showing how boundary salience was influenced by two sets of interrelated strategies. One set drove integration and the other set drove separation. \ud The thesis concludes with five theoretical insights into boundary change. Principal among these is the insight that boundary change can only come about when the boundary tensions are reduced and when the strategies supporting integration are dominant.\ud The thesis contributes to the theoretical understanding of boundaries and M&A integration but also to the practising manager by providing a framework for the analysis of boundaries and the determination of actions that reduce tensions and create the appropriate environment for effective boundary change

Topics: HD
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