"We are where we are going": Uncovering the role of organizational identity and strategy dynamics in the context of Mergers and Acquisitions as imposed strategic events.
Understanding organizational change remains of paramount importance for the progression of organizational science theory, as complexity and ambiguity are embraced as inseparable constituents of organizational life. Acknowledging this inseparability between change, complexity and ambiguity has led to the development of new change conceptions that emphasize the criticality of understanding the processes that lead change, over past concentrations on explaining and predicting its outcomes. This has opened the route for new explorations and the incorporation of new perspectives, even in widely researched contexts, as it is the case of M&As. In fact, the context of M&As presents one fruitful arena for exploring the implications of these new change theorizations, as the integration of previously independent organizations presents unparallel challenges, that have not yet been fully understood or effectively managed by extant theory and practice. Using the sensemaking perspective as the foundation for understanding organizational action, this study explores the connections between identity change and strategy, in two financial services institutions, Fin Bank and Deposit Bank, both of which had to undergo a series of transformative changes, in course of an economic adjustment program. Specifically, through the application of an exploratory, qualitative case study research design, this study explores how organizational identity and strategy dynamics intertwine during post-acquisition integration, to facilitate adaptability in the newly formed entities. At the same time, the under-researched case where M&As occur as part of an economic adjustment program, provided an opportunity for exploring how the nature of change, in this case imposed strategic change, influences the progression of post-acquisition integration processes. Insights from this study contribute to our understanding on how identity work efforts interconnect with strategy related processes to remedy the disruptions caused by the imposition and enactment of M&As. Specifically, the emergence of the three processes of “sensegiving via strategy formulation”, “sensemaking via strategy implementation” and “authenticating” provide insight on how agentic activity informed new identity conceptions, through the negotiation of new social structures during the implementation of knowledge-based work. This contributes to a growing research agenda concerned with the interaction and possible connections between different kinds of work, while the examination of imposed strategic change in the context of M&As informs extant interpretations on how the nature of change and characteristics of decision-making processes influence the progression of post-acquisition integration.