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Towards a process model of emotional sensemaking in post-merger integration: linking cognitive and affective dimensions

Eva Schlindwein (Centre for Corporate Reputation, Saïd Business School, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK)
Mike Geppert (Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, Friedrich Schiller University Jena, Jena, Germany)

Critical Perspectives on International Business

ISSN: 1742-2043

Article publication date: 30 June 2020

Issue publication date: 12 August 2021




The purpose of this paper is to advance micro-level theorising of sociocultural post-merger integration (PMI) by merging insights from international business and management research on the cognitive and affective dimensions of PMI.


The paper follows a narrative approach to review the previously separate literatures on cognition and emotion in PMI situations. It draws on insights from management research beyond the PMI context to integrate these literatures and as a result, develops a process model of emotional sensemaking in PMI.


An emotional sensemaking approach to PMI helps to explain when and why events might or might not motivate individuals to revisit their interpretation of a PMI and illustrates how and why similar PMI events can lead to opposite individual reactions and, thus, obtain heterogeneous integration outcomes.

Research limitations/implications

The paper discusses how an emotional sensemaking approach can be applied to sociocultural PMI and points to new directions for future studies based on this application. As the model concentrates on the individual level, theoretical implications for sociocultural PMI at the meso- and macro-levels remain limited.


This paper brings forward the dynamics that underlie the processes and outcomes of individuals’ behaviour and reactions to PMI events. The proposed process model of emotional sensemaking in PMI responds to recent calls by sociocultural PMI scholars to promote a processual rather than event-based view of PMI, with a focus on individual actors and an emphasis on the multifaceted dynamics and outcomes of PMI.



The authors are grateful to members of Write Club at Saïd Business School for their helpful comments on earlier versions of the manuscript, particularly to Tom Lawrence, Heli Helanummi-Cole, Rohini Jalan, Rita Mota, Özgü Karakulak and Kevin McSweeney. They would also like to thank two anonymous reviewers, who helped shape and improve this article.


Schlindwein, E. and Geppert, M. (2021), "Towards a process model of emotional sensemaking in post-merger integration: linking cognitive and affective dimensions", Critical Perspectives on International Business, Vol. 17 No. 3, pp. 399-416.



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