The “betrayal effect” on post-acquisition integration: A performative appraisal of management control systems in a merger context

Nazila Razi, John Garrick

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Abstract

Purpose: This paper aims to draw on Latour’s (1991) conceptual “performative” framework to investigate the role of management control systems (MCSs) in the establishment of post-acquisition integration. The study adopts a qualitative case study approach, where data are collected and analysed from an Australian company which had recently completed a number of acquisitions. Findings demonstrate the performative powers and effects of MCSs, which contribute to shaping customer and sales integration activities, including the forms some resistance may take. In this case, a bitter betrayal was perceived to have occurred in an early stage of the merger, and this paper argues that the use of a performative theoretical framework has enabled subsequent post-acquisition integration strategies to be rendered more visible and thus actionable.

Design/methodology/approach: The study adopts a qualitative approach where data are collected and analysed from an Australian case study company which had recently completed a number of acquisitions. Research methods used include semi-structured interviews, a review of archival documents and observations to capture daily integration activities and practices of actors operating in the company.

Findings: Findings demonstrate the performative powers and effects of MCSs, which structure customer and sales integration activities and make post-acquisition integration relations strategy visible and actionable.

Research limitations/implications: Findings are only on one case study, and there is a need to undertake further detailed case studies across a range of industries and timeframes, plus, where possible, revisit such studies post hoc to assess the stability of success of the integration.

Practical implications: Integration strategy and strategic change may be constituted by non-human actants such as MCSs. Practitioners who are engaged in acquisitions and making integration decisions need to recognise that MCSs do not merely play a subordinate role to integration strategies, but rather is an important moderating variable that play an active role in their formulation, configuration and enactment.

Originality/value: A performative approach is taken to provide a broader analytical framework for analysing the construction and sustaining of post‐acquisition integration relations, where there is no distinction between technical and social dimensions of action but, rather, the two are merged. This makes it possible to overcome the limitations inherent in existing theoretical frameworks. Using this approach, integration relations involve construction of a network of entities that are enrolled to support, create and sustain the integration.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)279-303
Number of pages25
JournalQualitative Research in Accounting and Management
Volume16
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 17 Jun 2019

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