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Of mergers and cultures: “What happened to shared values and joint assumptions?”

Sally Riad (Victoria Management School, Victoria University of Wellington, Wellington, New Zealand)

Journal of Organizational Change Management

ISSN: 0953-4814

Article publication date: 20 February 2007



This paper signals departure from a theoretical perspective on organizational culture in mergers and acquisitions based on a binary opposition between coherence and pluralism. The paper aims to outline another, dialogic perspective on cultural transformations in mergers and acquisitions, based on an assumption that individuals occupy temporary positions in dynamic dialogue, negotiating equally transitory, but temporarily cohesive allegiances.


The dialogic perspective derives from a constructionist approach and involves ethnographic research methodology. It is developed to track the complex contests of interests in post‐merger pluralist cultures and to reconstruct their dynamics. While some events in the merger process contribute to cultural pluralism and contest of interest, others appear to render allegiance to cohesive cultural elements seductively appropriable.


Two situations are presented. The first poses a view of culture during mergers in which contest over meaning is central and whereby the representation of a cohesive organizational culture is appropriated for political purposes. The second situation illustrates cross‐cutting cultures in action, presenting the development of a “working culture” a notion based on flitting cross‐organizational allegiances in the interest of confronting a central team.


The paper contributes to critical work on organizational culture in merger integration. It points to the inseparability of binaries, the limits of cultural attribution and the tension instigated by the conflation of culture's “differences”. In closing, it points to a future direction with a relational emphasis to merger integration.



Riad, S. (2007), "Of mergers and cultures: “What happened to shared values and joint assumptions?”", Journal of Organizational Change Management, Vol. 20 No. 1, pp. 26-43.



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