Need Examples of Subversive Behavior in M&A
| Russ Coff |
I just finished teaching a simulation exercise to BBA students on the politics of post-acquisition integration. I was surprised that students had a great deal of trouble believing that managers would be subversive even in that kind of setting. If there are specific examples of such subversive behavior that you know about, I’d appreciate it if you would post here or email them to me.
Here are some details about the exercise (and a Dilbert cartoon) in case anyone is interested.
My simulation began with the HBS Cadbury Schweppes case (by David Collis and Toby Stuart) which offers incredibly detailed information about their 2002 acquisition of Adams (makers of Trident/Dentyne, etc.). The B case lists 70 separate synergies and estimates of their dollar values. A few of them are discussed in more detail including brief action plans. You get a good sense that when a buyer anticipates synergies, they need to do a lot more than hand waving to estimate the associated cash flows.
For the simulation, we focused on specific synergies in the Canada region and I had them assume the roles of specific stakeholders on each side (Mkting, Mfg, R&D, TMT). Their task was to figure out: 1) which changes they were most concerned about, and 2) how to hinder the changes they didn’t want.
What was disappointing was that they had a very hard time imagining that employees would be very subversive in that setting (e.g., What can the Adams Mktng team do to make the Cadbury Mktng team look bad? How can Cadbury Mfg retain their suppliers and avoid switching to Adams’ suppliers?).
Perhaps you have a specific story of how managers acted in this context? If so, please share.