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‘M&as: Why Don’t People Ever Learn from the Mistakes of Others? by William Richards Introduction over the Years, Mergers and Acquisitions Research Has Identified the Importance of Leadership and Workplace Learning as

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‘M&As: why don’t people ever learn from the mistakes of others?

by William Richards

Introduction
Over the years, mergers and acquisitions research has identified the importance of leadership and workplace learning as critical determinants of M&A activities and outcomes. However, surprisingly little systematic attention has been paid to conceptualising or studying the impact and effect of either leadership styles or learning on the success of M&As – either in the academic or in the practitioner literature (Cartwright and Cooper, 2001)

Although scholars and practitioners recognise that acquisitions frequently fail to live up to their potential (Larsson and Finkelstein, 1999), the impact of leadership on the outcomes of the acquisition process and the learning that takes place, has not been well developed or even widely recognised. A review of scholarly and practitioner focused writing on M&As suggest that while much has been written on the actual M&A process, others have only occasionally noted the critical importance of leadership and learning in the success or failure of M&As. Even in those cases where the leadership impact has been acknowledged, past work on M&As has neither examined nor proposed any details concerning what constitutes what learning that actually takes place during M&A or how it makes a difference.

A review of academic and practitioner literature on M&A reveals that discussion of the primary determinants of M&A process and outcomes rarely ever mention the workplace learning that takes place nor the leadership necessary to facilitate that process. Instead, when they do refer to leadership, they tend to focus exclusively on a highly rationalised notion of strategy development. Where literature has identified key M&A factors, the treatment of learning from mistakes and leadership related issues has tended to remain narrow. In many...

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