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A paradoxical approach symbiotic to postmerger integration: a French longitudinal case study

Anne-Sophie Thelisson (Department of Strategy, ESDES, Lyon, France and Universite Catholique de Lyon, Lyon, France)
Audrey Missonier (Department of Strategy, Montpellier Business School, Montpellier, France)
Gilles Guieu (Faculte des Sciences Economiques et de la Gestion, Aix-Marseille Universite, Aix-en-Provence, France)
Lotte S. Luscher (Business and Social Science, Aarhus Universitet, Aarhus, Denmark)

European Business Review

ISSN: 0955-534X

Article publication date: 11 March 2019




This paper aims to examine post-merger integration (PMI) through the lens of paradox to determine how paradoxes contribute to successful integration. Although PMI has been identified as crucial to understand merger success or failure, the literature on PMI drivers remains inconclusive.


Drawing on the theory of paradox and two key elements of PMI, strategic interdependency (SI) and organizational autonomy (OA), the authors describe the merger of two listed French companies using longitudinal data.


The authors identify how the paradox between OA and SI was triggered and fostered PMI success by leading to symbiotic integration. They also show that two capabilities were central in helping the paradox to evolve: preserving the specificities of the organizations and pooling their respective capabilities. These capabilities result from basic decisions and actions during the integration implementation, such as highlighting the expertise of the target firm, refocusing the core activity while valorizing each company’s expertise, clarifying the identity of the new organization on the market and enhancing joint piloting and transferring both general management capacity and functional abilities during the reorganization period.

Practical implications

The authors offer several useful insights for managers trying to manage paradoxical tension throughout the merger process. This study encourages managers to embrace inconsistencies as they make decisions and to shift to dynamic decision-making as a way to adapt to complex contexts.


This study adopts a global and inclusive approach to focus on OA and SI and flesh out a picture of the integration process. It proposes a dynamic process model to conceptualize the stage-wise nature of the PMI process by highlighting the interrelations between OA and SI dynamics.



Thelisson, A.-S., Missonier, A., Guieu, G. and Luscher, L.S. (2019), "A paradoxical approach symbiotic to postmerger integration: a French longitudinal case study", European Business Review, Vol. 31 No. 2, pp. 232-259.



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