4.1 Individualism versus Collectivism
4.2 Power Distance
LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS AND ACRONYMS
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As the number of international mergers and acquisitions (M&As) increased formidable during the last decades, it is a highly discussed phenomenon, which is becoming more and more important (Erel et al., 2012, p. 1045). Nearly 30 years ago, in 1987, there have been merely 5.000 M&As worldwide, whereas in 2016 already 50.000 M&As were concluded and as presented in Table 1 (IMAA, 2017) latest stats even predict increasing numbers of M&As.
M&A experience might both harm and help post-merger performance in international acquisitions. As stated by Schoenberg (2000, p. 46) national cultural differences mainly present a strong challenge for cross-border acquisitions. Since the initial financial expectations are met simply by one half of all M&As, cultural differences might be at fault for this high failure rate (Zollo and Meier, 2008, p. 69). Given that cross-border M&As consolidate two or more different cultures, it has to be taken into consideration that incidents such as differing legislations, currencies, languages and cultural norms do play an essential role. As a result of those distinctions, costs to the integration process might occur and the capability of firms to achieve synergies might be subverted. Thereby, the expected economic advantages of the merger or acquisition will be affected, too. Key factors like the integration of the participating companies in each other and enormous adaptation operations are irrecoverable to accomplish synergies and advantages of M&As.
The hypothesis whether national cultural differences between acquirers and targets are likely to undermine post-merger performance has been researched myriad. An appropriate classification reclines in whether cultural differences matter, when they matter, underwhat conditions and in which way they do.
The elaboration of this paper is based on the theory of Hofstede (1980), who was one of the first to explicitly address the impact of culture on the integration process of M&As by explaining cultural differences might generate misunderstandings and conflicts between the two merging organisations. Hence the aim of our analysis is to dissect the impact of cultural differences on the post-merger performance in international acquisitions by focussing on two out of four dimensions of Hofstede (1980) by means of the works of Ahern et al. (2009) and Huang et al. (2017).
By defining the terms related to our work readers will get a first impression what the paper deals with. Culture in our work refers to national culture and is defined by Hofstede (2003, p. 1) as “[...] the programming of the mind, which distinguishes the members of one human group from another.“ The term Cultural differences in this paper is directly related to the key cultural dimensions of Hofstede (1980). His model enables the comparison of different national cultures regarding “Individualism versus Collectivism”, “Masculinity versus Femininity”, “Power Distance” and “Uncertainty Avoidance”.
M&As are established to generate synergies by integrating two businesses and therefore to maximise competitive advantages through various processes (Gartner, 1985, p. 184). Moreover M&As are motivated by gaining access to technology and knowledge of the target firm, as well as assigning those to the acquiring firm. An era dominated by knowledge as the most important resource for achieving positive economic performances arose and cultural distances may harm these knowledge transfers intensively (Bresman et al., 1999, p. 454). The last essential term of this paper Cross-border M&A signifies that a company in a country of destination (target/acquired company) might be acquired by an entity ofthe domestic country (acquiring company).
First of all, the literature review will give an overview of the current state of research and will determine the academic void, followed by the theoretical part focussing on Hofstede’s (1980) model of cultural dimensions. The subsequent analysis will be divided into two parts, distinguishing two of Hofstede’s dimensions Individualism versus Collectivism and Power Distance. To conclude there will be implications and limitations for further research studies.
2. Literature Review
To find relevant literature for this paper, we have used different research methods (e.g. the internet, libraries, databases, etc.) supported by tools such as Google Scholar, VHB Jourqual, Researchgate, and JSTOR. During our research key words like cross-border mergers, international acquisitions, financial performance, national culture and German and Czech equivalents were used. Mostly secondary materials have been used, as the submission is limited for the public. Regardless we are aware that the selection of the sources may affect the outcome of our paper.
During the last century, various theories and studies distinguishing national culture have been established (e.g. Trompenaars and Hampden-Turner, 1997), but one of the most common and influential studies of culture is Hofstede’s (1980) model of cultural dimensions. However, there has been strong polemics with the Dutch researcher to be outdated and unimplemented for modern societies (e.g. Bergiel et al., 2012 and Spector et al., 2001). We decided to focus on Hofstede’s model (1980) in spite of considerable criticism, since it is proven for more than 35 years that the model helps to understand national culture and enables to compare the cultural dimensions among countries.
In the past there used to be an exclusive focus on strategic and financial antecedent variables in studies of post-merger performance (e.g. Pinches and Narayanan, 1992). Since the nineties the researchers began to concentrate on “softer”, social and cultural issues, which imply an important determinant of the result of the post-merger performance of international acquisitions (e.g. Hofstede, 2003; Kogut and Singh, 1988; Schweiger and Goulet, 2000). Many studies, articles and books research the effect of culture in general on cross-border acquisitions. Nevertheless, there have been surprisingly few empirical and statistical studies, which have tested this contention. Existing studies do not show unambiguous identical results, but rather quite the opposite. On the one hand, some studies report positive or unrelated effects of culture on the M&A performance (e.g. Ahammad et al., 2016; Larsson and Risberg, 1998; Mo- rosini et al., 1998), but on the other hand researchers argue that national cultural differences do not have an effect on the post-merger performance (e.g. Chatterjee et al., 1992; Datta, 1991; Weber, 1996).
To compare the post-merger performance with Hofstede’s cultural dimensions we have followed the argumentation and data of Ahern, Danielli and Fracassi (2010), which presents the influence of culture on post-merger performance in international acquisitions by means of Collectivism versus Individualism. Further we used the research of Huang et al. (2017), who focussed on Hofstede’s dimension Power Distance, to illustrate that the results are not by hazard but empirically documented in two autonomous studies.
The main focus of the theoretical part of our paper is on the key cultural dimensions model of Hofstede (1980). Together with the rising number of crossborder M&A deals, also the importance of non-economic factors, which are influencing a successful integration of the target company have started to be taken into consideration (Teerikangas and Vary, 2006, p. 31). One of the most significant factors is the question regarding cultural differences between acquiring and acquired companies, since the successful over-bridging of different cultural backgrounds might lead to higher performance in terms of profit.
The term culture has to be subdivided into different factors, which influence all cross-borders deals. In our work, the focus is on the impact of national culture on organisations. One of the most influential works is the study of Hofstede (1980), which does not only emphasize the influence of culture on M&A deals, but also describes four key dimensions enabling comparison of different national cultures.
The first dimension Individualism versus Collectivism refers to “[...] the degree which individuals are supposed to look for themselves or remain integrated into groups [...] ” (Hofstede, 2003, p. xx). In individualistic countries, the contractual relationships are based on bilateral advantages, while in collectivistic societies they are based on moral foundations. Organisations in highly individualistic societies emphasise the importance of freedom and financial rewards for achievement that promotes the innovation and leads more easily to empowerment of employees. This is also positively associated with employee morale and post-acquisition performance (Morosini and Singh, 1994, p. 393). People in individualistic countries are rather compatible with society’s cosmopolitan orientation and extroversion, which may facilitate the interaction of different national cultures after the merge or acquisition (Hofstede, 2003, p. 212; Morosini and Singh, 1994, p. 393). This dimension also influences the M&A negotiations impressively, because the decisions in individualistic societies are usually made by a limited number of top managers, in collectivistic countries just the opposite. Collectivism affects the need of stable relationships between the managements of both companies. Therefore, a stable relationship, which of course takes more time to be established and might be reflected by lower performance, has to be built (Hofstede, 2003, p. 436).
Another dimension is Power Distance, which describes the “[...] extent to which the less powerful members of organisations and institutions accept and expect that power is distributed unequally.’’ (Hofstede, 2003, p. xix). In the case of M&A deals, the difference in power distance might lead to unequal acceptance of subordinates and managers in both companies in terms of respect and social acceptance and may result in friction when firms try to merge (Datta, 1991, p. 293). Especially in large power distance societies, where it might lead to problems with accepting and respecting the “new” management team if the leaders treat employees as equals, this is difficult (Ahern et al., 2010, p. 8 - 9). On the contrary in low PDV-driven cultures egalitarianism is considered as an ideal. Hence people are insensitive to differentiate in their hierarchical positions and seek to treat each other as homogeneous (Huang et al., 2017, p. 974).
Third dimension Masculinity versus Femininity opposes “tough” masculine societies with preference of assertiveness, decisiveness and achievement to “render” feminine societies that have more preferences on cooperation, modesty, life-work balance and interpersonal relationships (Hofstede, 2003, p. xx). Organisations in feminine cultures strive for equality and therefore the managers and subordinates are on the same level. Also, the feminine businesses may be rather a cooperative venture (Hofstede, 2003, p. 279 - 313), because they are more likely to resolve conflicts through compromise and to strive for agreement (Hofstede, 2003, p. 436). On the other side in masculine cultures the organisations are based on internal competition and achievement, which is measured by accomplishment (Hofstede, 2003, p. 313).
The last dimension Uncertainty Avoidance describes the extent of “[...] society’s tolerance for ambiguity.’’ (Hofstede, 2003, p. 436). In countries with low uncertainty avoidance fewer written rules and less structured activities might be found and people tend to be more tolerant to different ideas and practices. The trust enables better integration process and therefore facilitates the post-merger cooperation (Zak and Knack, 2001, p. 310 - 311). Therefore, the number of M&A deals usually will be higher in those countries (Ahern et al., 2010, p. 11). By contrast in higher uncertainty avoidance societies, organisations incline to present a great resistance to change, a lower acceptance of conflicts, a reduced labour mobility and a lower tolerance for foreign managers (Hofstede 2003, p. 145 and p. 436; Morosini and Singh, 1994, p. 393).
Cultural distance based on the four above mentioned dimensions (PD, ID, MA and UA) defines the degree to which culture of one country differs from culture of another country (Kogut and Singh, 1988, p. 422). Table 2 shows the cultural dimensions in different countries, especially that ID and PD are negatively correlated. Diversification of the dimensions for M&As between Scandinavian and English-speaking countries, which have an individualistic, low power distance and low uncertainty avoidance society may be seen as ideal (Hofstede, 2017; Ahern et al., 2010, p. 44).
As Hofstede argues, companies as well as their employees are strongly influenced by their own national culture, which might result in negative interaction and problems within culturally distant firms. Those may lead to a decrease of loyalty, commitment, satisfaction and finally to less production in the postmergers cooperation (Hofstede, 2003, p. 240; Morán and Panasian, 2005, p. 18). The reason for the high failure rate of performance in M&As is validated by several empirical researches as the national cultural distance, where the management, organisations’ structure, HR and codes of ethics are diverse (Datta and Puia, 1995, p. 337; Teerikangas and Vary, 2006, p. 31).
Consistent with the cultural distance hypothesis, the purpose of this chapter is to give evidence that the national cultures of merging firms have to be similar or at least complementary to integrate successfully.
4.1 Individualism versus Collectivism
The data used for this analysis were elaborated by K. Ahern et al. (2010), who on the basis of SDC Platinum databases researched samples of 127.950 mergers, of which 30.907 were cross-border deals (Ahern et al., 2010, p. 10). In their research, the focus was on three key dimensions of national cultures: first, Hierarchy versus Egalitarianism, second Trust versus Distrust and last Individualism versus Collectivism, which our work deals with (Ahern et al., 2010, p. 6).
To illustrate that, Table 3 summarises the relation and activity between the Top- 30-nations in cross-border deals (including domestic ones) since 1985 until 2008. As it can be seen the worldwide leader by far is the USA with 55.407 targets, followed by the UK (21.689), Canada (6.752), Australia (6.128) and Japan (3.513). Above all, the Scandinavian countries are counted among those Top- 30-nations. For further illustration of the complexity of international mergers Figure 1 is taken into consideration, where the proportion between the countries’ number of domestic mergers and the cross-border merger activity is demonstrated. This figure is essential to show that the trading partners were not chosen accidently, but with purpose. The evidence points out that English speaking nations have strong M&A ties (e.g. USA and Canada, USA and UK) and that some of the biggest domestic markets have less cross-border mergers (e.g. Japan, Australia and Malaysia) (see last row in Table 3). This last row in Table 3 delineates that less than 6% of acquisitions of Japanese companies are made by foreign acquirers, compared to 24% for the entire world. Additionally, there is a clear evidence that cultural differences between countries have an impact on the choice of the trade partner but also the geographical isolation of island-nations might influence the number of cross-border mergers (e.g. Japan, Australia) (Ahern et al., 2010, p. 11).
In order to measure the role of culture in reference to value creation by mergers, the sample size is reduced to 815 cross-border mergers across 38 countries, because the available stock price data was limited for the public (Ahern et al., 2010, p. 20-21).
This research computes the acquirer’s and target’s abnormal returns in a three- day window around the announcement of the merger. The cumulative abnormal return (CAR) is the sum over three days and it is considered to be the variable of interest in this analysis, whereas the combined CAR refers simply to “[...] the average of the acquirer’s and target’s CAR, weighted by each firm’s market value two days before the announcement.’’ (Ahern, et al., 2010, p. 21). Researchers discovered that the average combined CAR in a three-day window around the announcement is 2,13% and that cross-border deals have an average combined CAR of 3,46% (for comparison: domestic mergers only 1,85%). As a result of that it can be said that mergers create an average value, whereas crossborder mergers even create a higher value than domestic ones.
Table 4 describes the effect of cultural differences on combined returns in 815 cross-border mergers.
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