Handbook of Research on Mergers and Acquisitions
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Handbook of Research on Mergers and Acquisitions

Edited by Yaakov Weber

For the last four decades, researchers in various disciplines have been trying to explain the enduring paradox of the growing activity and volume of mergers and acquisitions (M & A) versus the high failure rate of M & A. This Handbook will stimulate scholars to focus on new research directions.
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Chapter 7: Researching mergers and acquisitions with the case study method: idiographic understanding of longitudinal integration processes

Lars Bengtsson and Rikard Larsson


There are two major ways of empirically studying various phenomena; broader nomothetic surveys of many observations and idiographic case studies of one or few in-depth cases (Larsson, 1993). In the area of mergers and acquisitions, as with many other management research areas, the scientific literature is dominated by nomothetic surveys (for example, Andrade et al., 2001; Chatterjee et al., 1992; Haleblian and Finkelstein, 1999; Hitt et al., 1991; Jensen and Ruback, 1983; King et al., 2004) and conceptual publications (for example, Haspeslagh and Jemison, 1991; Jemison and Sitkin, 1986; Schweiger and Walsh, 1990). These two categories tend together to outnumber the published M & A case studies (for example, Buono et al., 1985; Greenwood et al., 1994; Larsson, 1990; Sales and Mirvis, 1984) by more than 10 to 1 among the most referenced M & A articles and books (compare Haleblian et al., 2009). One can speculate why case studies are much less prevalent in the M & A literature, such as dominating positivistic, quantitative research norms in the mainly American academic community that devalues more interpretive, qualitative case studies more often used by European researchers (Bengtsson et al., 1997, Collin et al., 1996). The classic example of this being the claim of case studies lacking scientific value, that fortunately Campbell himself retracted this quite exaggerated statement (Campbell, 1975).

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