Leading M&As in a Middle Managerial Role: A Balancing Act

  • Satu Teerikangas
  • Gustavo Birollo


This chapter explores middle managers as agents and recipients of change when involved in mergers and acquisitions. We capture the characteristics of middle managers, who, when faced with such radical organisational change, not only have to personally thrive amidst this change, but, moreover, must act as the driving force of this change. The middle managerial challenge is embedded in this double-hatting—simultaneously delivering, while personally living through the same change. We argue that middle managers’ development towards leadership positions depends on their ability to personally undergo and lead such changes when and where they arise. This requires learning to both implement change and personally make sense of change. Going forward, we call for more attention to be given to the ‘inner world’ of change agents.


Middle manager Integration manager Integration team Change agent Leadership 


  1. Ashkanasy, N. M., & Holmes, S. (1995). Perceptions of Organizational Ideology Following Merger: A Longitudinal Study of Merging Accounting Firms. Accounting, Organizations and Society, 20, 19–34.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Ashkenas, R. N., DeMonaco, L. J., & Francis, S. C. (1998). Making the Deal Real: How GE Capital Integrates Acquisitions. Harvard Business Review, 76(1), 165–178.Google Scholar
  3. Ashkenas, R. N., & Francis, S. C. (2000). Integration Managers: Special Leaders for Special Times. Harvard Business Review, 78(6), 108–116.Google Scholar
  4. Balogun, J. (2003). From Blaming the Middle to Harnessing Its Potential: Creating Change Intermediaries. British Journal of Management, 14(1), 69–83.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Balogun, J., Gleadle, P., Hailey, V. H., & Willmott, H. (2005). Managing Change Across Boundaries: Boundary-Shaking Practices. British Journal of Management, 16(4), 261–278.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Balogun, J., & Johnson, G. (2005). From Intended Strategies to Unintended Outcomes: The Impact of Change Recipient Sensemaking. Organization Studies, 26(11), 1573–1601.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Barger, N. J., & Kirby, L. K. (1995). The Challenge of Change in Organizations. Palo Alto, CA: Davies-Black.Google Scholar
  8. Barsade, S. G. (2002). The Ripple Effect: Emotional Contagion and Its Influence on Group Behavior. Administrative Science Quarterly, 47(December), 644–675.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Barsade, S. G., & Gibson, D. E. (2007). Why Does Affect Matter in Organizations? Academy of Management Perspectives, 21(1), 36–59.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Bartel, C. A., & Saavedra, R. (2000). The Collective Construction of Work Group Moods. Administrative Science Quarterly, 45(June), 197–231.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Biggart, N. W. (1977). The Creative Destructive Process of Organizational Change: The Case of the Post Office. Administrative Science Quarterly, 22, 410–425.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Birollo, G. (2016). Bridging Two Worlds: Middle Managers in the Context of Cross-Border Acquisitions. Doctoral Dissertation, HEC Montréal.Google Scholar
  13. Bryant, M., & Stensaker, I. (2011). The Competing Roles of Middle Management: Negotiated Order in the Context of Change. Journal of Change Management, 11(3), 353–373.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Buchanan, D. (2003). Demand, Instabilities, Manipulations, Careers: The Lived Experience of Driving Change. Human Relations, 56(6), 663–684.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Buono, A. F., & Bowditch, J. L. (1989). The Human Side of M&A. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  16. Cameron, K. S., Dutton, J. E., & Quinn, R. E. (2003). Positive Organizational Scholarship. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler.Google Scholar
  17. Cameron, K. S., & Spreitzer, G. (2012). The Oxford Handbook of Positive Organizational Scholarship. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  18. Cartwright, S., & Cooper, C. L. (1990). The Impact of Mergers and Acquisitions on People at Work: Existing Research and Issues. British Journal of Management, 1, 65–76.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Chreim, S., & Tafaghod, M. (2012). Contradiction and Sensemaking in Acquisition Integration. The Journal of Applied Behavioral Science, 48(1), 5–32.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Dagnino, G. B., & Pisano, V. (2008). Unpacking the Champion of Acquisitions: The Key Figure in the Execution of the Post-acquisition Integration Process. In C. L. Cooper & S. Finkelstein (Eds.), Advances in Mergers & Acquisitions (Vol. 7, pp. 51–69). Greenwich, CT: JAI Press.Google Scholar
  21. Datta, D. K. (1991). Organizational Fit and Acquisition Performance: Effects of Post-acquisition Integration. Strategic Management Journal, 12(4), 281–297.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Deiser, R. (1994). Post-acquisition Management: A Process of Strategic and Organisational Learning. In G. Von Krogh, A. Siknatra, & H. Singh (Eds.), The Management of Corporate Acquisitions (pp. 359–390). London: The Macmillan Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Doz, Y. L. (1996). The Evolution of Cooperation in Strategic Alliances: Initial Conditions or Learning Processes? Strategic Management Journal, 17(S1), 55–83.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Gerstsen, M., Soderberg, A.-M., & Torp, J. (1998). Cultural Dimensions of International Mergers and Acquisitions. Walter de Gruyter.Google Scholar
  25. Gioia, D. A., Corley, K. G., & Hamilton, A. L. (2013). Seeking Qualitative Rigor in Inductive Research: Notes on the Gioia Methodology. Organizational Research Methods, 16(1), 15–31.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Goleman, D. (1996). Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ. London: Bantam Books.Google Scholar
  27. Graebner, M. E. (2004). Momentum and Serendipity: How Acquired Firm Leaders Create Value in the Integration of Technology Firms. Strategic Management Journal, 25(8–9), 751–777.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Green, M. (2007). Change Management Masterclass. London: Kogan page.Google Scholar
  29. Guth, W. D., & Macmillan, I. C. (1986). Strategy Implementation Versus Middle Management Self-Interest. Strategic Management Journal, 7(4), 313–327.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Hambrick, D. C., & Cannella, A. A. (1993). Relative Standing: a Framework for Understanding Departures of Acquired Executives. Academy of Management Journal, 36(4), 733–762.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Harding, N., Lee, H., & Ford, J. (2014). Who is ‘The Middle Manager’? Human Relations, 67(10), 1213–1237.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Haspeslagh, P., & Farquhar, A. B. (1994). The Acquisition Integration Process: A Contingent Framework. In G. von Krogh, A. Siknatra, & H. Singh (Eds.), The Management of Corporate Acquisitions (pp. 414–447). London: The Macmillan Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Haspeslagh, P. C., & Jemison, D. B. (1991). Managing Acquisitions: Creating Value through Corporate Renewal. New York: The Free Press.Google Scholar
  34. Hébert, L., Very, P., & Beamish, P. W. (2005). Expatriation as a Bridge Over Troubled Water: A Knowledge-Based Perspective Applied to Cross-Border Acquisitions. Organization Studies, 26(10), 1455–1476.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Huy, Q. N. (2002). Emotional Balancing of Organizational Continuity and Radical Change: The Contribution of Middle Managers. Administrative Science Quarterly, 47(March), 31–69.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Jemison, D. B., & Sitkin, S. B. (1986). Corporate Acquisitions: A Process Perspective. Academy of Management Review, 11(1), 145–163.Google Scholar
  37. Kahn, W. A. (1990). Psychological Conditions of Personal Engagement and Disengagement at Work. Academy of Management Journal, 33(4), 692–724.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Kostova, T., & Roth, K. (2003). Social Capital in Multinational Corporations and a Micro-Macro Model of Its Formation. Academy of Management Review, 28(2), 297–317.Google Scholar
  39. Kotter, J. (1995). Leading Change: Why Transformation Efforts Fail. Harvard Business Review, 73(2), 1–8.Google Scholar
  40. Lane, H. W., Maznevski, M. L., Mendenhall, M. E., & McNett, J. (2004). Handbook of Global Management. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing.Google Scholar
  41. Lewin, K. (1951). Field Theory in Social Science. New York: Harper Row.Google Scholar
  42. Losada, M., & Heaphy, E. (2004). The Role of Positivity and Connectivity in the Performance of Business Teams: A Nonlinear Dynamics Model. American Behavioral Scientist, 47(6), 740–765.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Mantere, S. (2008). Role Expectations and Middle Manager Strategic Agency. Journal of Management Studies, 45(2), 294–316.Google Scholar
  44. Marks, M. L., & Mirvis, P. H. (2011). Merge Ahead: A Research Agenda to Increase Merger and Acquisition Success. Journal of Business and Psychology, 26(2), 161–168.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Marmenout, K. (2011). Peer Interaction in Mergers: Evidence of Collective Rumination. Human Resource Management, 50(6), 783–808.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Merton, R. K., & Barber, E. (1910/2004). The Travels and Adventures of Serendipity. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  47. Meyer, C. B. (2006). Destructive Dynamics of Middle Management Intervention in Postmerger Processes. The Journal of Applied Behavioral Science, 42(4), 397–419.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Monin, P., Noorderhaven, N., Vaara, E., & Kroon, D. (2013). Giving Sense to and Making Sense of Justice in Postmerger Integration. Academy of Management Journal, 56(1), 256–284.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Morosini, P., Shane, S., & Singh, H. (1998). National Cultural Distance and Cross-Border Acquisition Performance. Journal of International Business Studies, 29(1), 137–158.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Napier, N. K., Schweiger, D. M., & Kosglow, J. J. (1993). Managing Organisational Diversity: Observations from Cross-Border Acquisitions. Human Resource Management, 32(4), 505–523.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Nonaka, I. (1988). Toward Middle-Up-Down Management: Accelerating Information Creation. MIT Sloan Management Review, 29(3), 9.Google Scholar
  52. Olie, R. (1990). Culture and Integration Problems in International Mergers and Acquisitions. European Management Journal, 8(2), 206–215.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Olie, R. (1994). Shades of Culture and Institutions in International Mergers. Organisation Studies, 15(3), 381–405.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Raes, A. M., Heijltjes, M. G., Glunk, U., & Roe, R. A. (2011). The Interface of the Top Management Team and Middle Managers: A Process Model. Academy of Management Review, 36(1), 102–126.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Rajagopalan, N., & Spreitzer, G. M. (1997). Toward a Theory of Strategic Change: A Multi-Lens Perspective and Integrative Framework. Academy of Management Review, 22(1), 48–79.Google Scholar
  56. Reus, T. H., Lamont, B. T., & Ellis, K. M. (2016). A Darker Side of Knowledge Transfer Following International Acquisitions. Strategic Management Journal, 37(5), 932–944.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Reynolds, N. S., & Teerikangas, S. (2015). The International Experience in Domestic Mergers: Are Purely Domestic M&As a Myth? International Business Review.
  58. Risberg, A. (2001). Employee Experiences of Acquisition Processes. Journal of World Business, 36(1), 58–84.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Rouleau, L. (2005). Micro-Practices of Strategic Sensemaking and Sensegiving: How Middle Managers Interpret and Sell Change Every Day. Journal of Management Studies, 42(7), 1413–1441.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Rouleau, L., & Balogun, J. (2011). Middle Managers, Strategic Sensemaking, and Discursive Competence. Journal of Management Studies, 48(5), 953–983.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Rouleau, L., Balogun, J., & Floyd, S. (2015). Strategy-as-Practice Research on Middle Managers’ Strategy Work. In D. Golsorkhi, L. Rouleau, D. Seidl, & E. Vaara (Eds.), Cambridge Handbook of Strategy as Practice (2nd ed., pp. 598–615). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Salanova, M., Agut, S., & Peiro, J. M. (2005). Linking Organizational Resources and Work Engagement to Employee Performance and Customer Loyalty: The Mediation of Service Climate. Journal of Applied Psychology, 90(6), 1217–1227.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Schweiger, D. M., & Goulet, P. K. (2000). Integrating Mergers and Acquisitions: An International Research Review. In C. Cooper & A. Gregory (Eds.), Advances in Mergers and Acquisitions (Vol. 1, pp. 61–91). Amsterdam: JAI Press.Google Scholar
  64. Shanahan, D. (1996). From Language Learner to Multicultural Manager. European Management Journal, 14(3), 315–321.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Shelton, M. J., Fontilla, D., Huyett, B., & Sias, D. (2003). Managing Your Integration Manager. McKinsey on Finance, 12–15.Google Scholar
  66. Sonenshein, S. (2014). How Organizations Foster the Creative Use of Resources. Academy of Management Journal, 57(3), 814–848.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Sonenshein, S., & Dholakia, U. (2012). Explaining Employee Engagement with Strategic Change Implementation: A Meaning-Making Approach. Organization Science, 23(1), 1–23.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Teerikangas, S. (2006). Silent Forces in Cross-Border Acquisitions—An Integrative Perspective on Post-acquisition Integration. Doctoral Dissertation Series, 1/2006, Institute of Strategy and International Business, Helsinki University of Technology.Google Scholar
  69. Teerikangas, S. (2012a). Dynamics of Acquired Firm Pre-acquisition Employee Reactions. Journal of Management, 38(2), 599–639.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Teerikangas, S. (2012b). Silent Forces Shaping the Performance of Cross-Border Acquisitions. In D. Faulkner, S. Teerikangas, & R. Joseph (Eds.), Handbook of Mergers and Acquisitions (pp. 517–544). Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Teerikangas, S., & Irrmann, O. (2016). Post-acquisition Cultural Change: Co-Habiting the Tension Between Practiced & Espoused Values. Management International Review, 56(2), 195–226.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Teerikangas, S., & Joseph, R. (2012). Post-Deal Integration: An Overview. In D. Faulkner, S. Teerikangas, & R. Joseph (Eds.), Handbook of Mergers & Acquisitions (pp. 339–371). Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Teerikangas, S., & Laamanen, T. (2014). Structure First! Temporal Dynamics of Structural & Cultural Integration in Cross-Border Acquisitions. In C. Cooper & S. Finkelstein (Eds.), Advances in Mergers and Acquisitions (Vol. 12, pp. 109–152). Amsterdam: JAI Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Teerikangas, S., & Tienari, J. (2012). Ambiguities in Post-Merger Integration: A View from Within. Paper presented at the Colloquium of the European Group of Organization Studies (EGOS), Helsinki, July 5–7.Google Scholar
  75. Teerikangas, S., Very, P., & Pisano, V. (2011). Integration Manager’s Value-Capturing Roles and Acquisition Performance. Human Resource Management, 50(5), 651–683.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. Thomas, D. C., & Inkson, K. C. (2003). Cultural Intelligence: Living and Working Globally. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler Publishers.Google Scholar
  77. Tsoukas, H., & Chia, R. (2002). On Organizational Becoming. Organization Science, 13(5), 567–582.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  78. Välikangas, L. (2010). The Resilient Organization: How Adaptive Cultures Thrive even when Strategy Fails. New York: McGraw-Hill.Google Scholar
  79. Vasilaki, A., & O'Regan, N. (2008). Enhancing Post-acquisition Organisational Performance: The Role of the Top Management Team. Team Performance Management: An International Journal, 14(3/4), 134–145.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  80. Véry, P. (2004). The Management of M&A. Chichester: Wiley.Google Scholar
  81. Vickers, D., & Fox, S. (2010). Towards Practice-Based Studies of HRM: An Actor-Network and Communities of Practice Informed Approach. The International Journal of Human Resource Management, 21(6), 899–914.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  82. Westley, F. R. (1990). Middle Managers and Strategy: Microdynamics of Inclusion. Strategic Management Journal, 11(5), 337–351.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  83. Wills, S., & Barham, K. (1994). Being an International Manager. European Management Journal, 12(1), 49–59.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  84. Wooldridge, B., Schmid, T., & Floyd, S. W. (2008). The Middle Management Perspective on Strategy Process: Contributions, Synthesis, and Future Research. Journal of Management, 34(6), 1190–1221.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Satu Teerikangas
    • 1
  • Gustavo Birollo
    • 2
  1. 1.School of Economics, University of TurkuTurkuFinland
  2. 2.University of LavalQuebec CityCanada

Personalised recommendations