Post-merger integration and innovation of emerging market multinationals in the context of strategic asset-seeking mergers & acquisitions

  • Xiaomeng Liu

Student thesis: PhD Thesis


This thesis is consisted of three studies (in Chapter 2, Chapter 3 and Chapter 4) on different topics of strategic asset-seeking mergers & acquisitions (SAS M&As) conducted by emerging market multinationals (EMNEs) in advanced economies. Such M&As represent a critical strategy for EMNEs to augment their capabilities and competitive advantages by acquiring firms and their valuable assets (e.g., Deng, 2009; Liang, Giroud, & Rygh, 2021, 2022; Luo & Tung, 2007, 2018). While the three studies are somehow interconnected as they serve the same broad theme (i.e., the SAS M&As), they should also be viewed as “individual” papers that have different specific questions and contributions.
Chapter 1 represents the introduction to the whole thesis. In this chapter, the author first provides the research background of the SAS M&As and the motivations that lead to this thesis, followed by the research objectives and questions. Then, an overview of three core studies is offered by summarising the key findings and contributions of each study.
Study 1 (Chapter 2), as a systematic literature review, aims to take stock of existing knowledge on the SAS M&As and innovation, enhance our understanding of the current research and point out future directions by examining the (1) relationship between SAS M&As and post-merger innovation of EMNEs and (2) relevant mechanisms shaping this relationship. After providing the bibliometric findings based on journal, year, method and country, this study identifies the primarily positive effects of SAS M&As on EMNEs’ innovation and summarises the studied mechanisms into a multilevel framework, ranging from firm-level factors to macro-level factors. This study also discusses several research gaps in extant literature that correspond to promising research directions. Specifically, it suggests current research tends to simplify the post-merger integration (PMI) process, overly study knowledge transfer and neglect other steps of knowledge management (e.g., knowledge creation), overlook diversity in the concept of innovation, and pay insufficient attention to inter-firm factors and non-firm-level factors (i.e., individual-, industry- and macro-level factors). As a result, the author encourages future research to better investigate the complicated, dynamic and longitudinal process of PMI, explore knowledge creation in addition to its transfer, research into more types and levels of innovation, and embrace more inter-firm factors and non-firm-level factors such as individual elements. By doing so, this study contributes to the development of SAS M&A research by comprehensively reviewing extant studies and pointing out future research avenues.
Study 2 (Chapter 3) and Study 3 (Chapter 4) represent empirical efforts to qualitatively explore the SAS M&As with a focus on relevant process and mechanisms via multiple case studies. Study 2 seeks to investigate the dynamic roles of a group of critical individuals, namely boundary spanners, in facilitating PMI. It reveals different focuses of boundary spanners at different stages. At the initial stage of PMI, qualified individuals emerge as boundary spanners with relevant experiences, competencies and the individual-organisation fit. They then pave the way for further integration as the primary bridge between acquirers and targets, given the limited inter-organisational communication and collaboration at the early stage. During this period, they have to deal with a series of urgent and challenging problems, including handling initial employee management, improving the image of acquirers and establishing the strategic visions in target firms. With the development of PMI and the expansion of inter-organisational interaction, boundary spanners get to shift to more normalised responsibilities such as managing routines and daily operations, pursuing market performance, and assisting others’ communication. The author further suggests the reliance on several boundary spanners should gradually decline as PMI develops with the alleviated LOE. This study firstly contributes to the PMI literature by exploring the black box of mechanisms at the individual level and recognising the proactive roles of acquirers. It also has implications for the boundary spanner literature by investigating their roles in a dynamic rather than static organisational boundary during the PMI and discussing how they could perform their tasks in the target firms with a reluctant attitude.
Study 3 (Chapter 4) further explores the link between PMI and innovation with an emphasis on its process and mechanisms. Through multiple case studies of EMNEs, this study identifies a set of interactive mechanisms to illustrate how PMI and post-merger innovation gradually unfold, including the dynamic foundation of PMI (i.e., complementarity and compatibility), the facilitating mechanisms (i.e., knowledge management and trust building) and two types of innovation (i.e., exploitative innovation and exploratory innovation). Specifically, the author first reveals the dynamic foundation of PMI, namely the transformation of complementarity and compatibility from the early stage to late stage. While early-stage complementarity resides in the existing stock of resources, the late-stage complementarity is based on newly created resources along the PMI process. The author suggests knowledge management facilitates the transformation of complementarity and contributes to overcoming liability of emergingness (LOE) from the capability perspective. In terms of compatibility, it is based on industry-relatedness at the early stage and evolves to be based on organisational routines. The author argues trust building facilitates the change of compatibility and helps to alleviate LOE from the perceptual perspective. The author then highlights the differentiation between exploitative innovation and exploratory innovation at different stages of PMI and discuss different conditions for achieving them. In sum, a dynamic and interactive process of PMI and post-merger innovation in SAS M&As has been demonstrated. This study contributes to the PMI literature by unwrapping its complicated mechanisms and by dividing LOE into different aspects (i.e., the capability aspect and the perceptual aspect). It also contributes to the post-merger innovation research by building the processual link between PMI and innovation, recognising the diversity in innovation, and highlighting the importance of knowledge co-creation.
Chapter 5 concludes this thesis by summarising the major findings of each study, discussing the overall implications of the thesis, recognising research limitations and offering avenues for future research.
Date of AwardJul 2024
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Nottingham
SupervisorJingzi Zhou (Supervisor), Steven Zhou (Supervisor) & Xinmin Peng (Supervisor)


  • mergers & acquisitions

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