Queen's University IRC

Living Happily Ever After… with an Acquisition


Carol A. Beatty
Queen’s Industrial Relations Centre Director

January 1, 1999

Research evidence points to numerous unsatisfactory outcomes of mergers and acquisitions, including high failure rates, sinking profits, and various negative human resource impacts. Managers looking for advice to increase success, however, will find contradictory prescriptions in the literature. For example, some researchers conclude that unrelated or conglomerate types of acquisitions perform poorly, but others report that conglomerate mergers outperform related mergers.

Based on a survey of large public Canadian companies that were relatively experienced in making and managing acquisitions, this study identifies the prescriptions that are actually associated with success, and it provides three critical lessons for managers: the need to manage risk, to manage impulsiveness, and to pay attention to the human dimension. It also reduces the vast number of recommendations about managing the human dimension to a few critical ones.

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