Integrating Cultures After a Merger

When a merger or acquisition unexpectedly heads south, the costs are painfully clear. Morale drops. Synergies fail to materialize. Key people—those you planned to keep—start heading for the exits. But what’s really going on? Why is the system suddenly failing?

A likely cause of the trouble is culture clash. Acquirers have well-developed toolkits for managing the financial and operational aspects of a deal; they track results closely and they hold executives accountable for hitting their targets on schedule. Integrating two disparate cultures, by contrast, typically seems “soft”— both difficult to measure and almost impossible to manage directly. As a result, few organizations apply the same rigor to managing and steering cultural integration that they apply to a conventional, hard-dollar synergy.

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