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The impact of an M&A on a target firm: a Socially Responsible Organizational Identity Perspective

Abstract : Relatively small, entrepreneurial sized firms with a "Socially Responsible Organizational Identity" are being acquired by multinationals at a growing pace. Recent deals include the purchase of the Body Shop by L'Oreal, Stonyfield Farm by Groupe Danone, and Ben & Jerry's by Unilever. I postulate that a Socially Responsible Organizational Identity is a valuable, rare and tacit resource (Barney, 1986; 1991) which multinationals want to capture through M&A. While the impact of an M&A on stakeholder practices of both target and acquiring firms has been researched from a quantitative perspective (Waddock & Graves, 2006), there are no studies on the phenomenon from an organizational identity perspective, and more particularly from a Socially Responsible Organizational Identity Perspective. This dissertation undertakes the case study of the acquisition of CSR pioneer Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream by Unilever to understand how the acquisition may have impacted the Socially Responsible Organizational Identity (SROI)of Ben & Jerry's and more particularly, which factors contribute to the resilience of a firm's SROI. Drawing from the CSR and organizational identity literatures, I propose a new Socially Responsible Organizational Identity (SROI) model which articulates three elements: top managerial discourse, visible manifestations of a firm's social responsibility actions and finally, organizational members' perceptions of their firm's social responsibility. The first part of this dissertation takes a more 'objective' approach using a longitudinal content analysis of the evolution of managerial discourse ("projected identity") and organizational artefacts ("manifested identity"). Findings from this section reveal that the shift away from a founders' led firm to a professionally led business has had more impact on the company's Projected and Manifested Identity then the acquisition itself. The second part of this study takes a more subjective and interpretative lens to assess members' perceptions of their organization. The findings from this last section reveal that there are multiple perspectives on what constitutes the nature and content of a Socially Responsible Organizational Identity, thus bringing into question the notion of a monolithic organizational identity.
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Submitted on : Wednesday, July 13, 2011 - 9:24:00 AM
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Julie Bayle Cordier. The impact of an M&A on a target firm: a Socially Responsible Organizational Identity Perspective. Business administration. HEC PARIS, 2010. English. ⟨NNT : 2010EHEC0001⟩. ⟨pastel-00608440⟩

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