February 12, 2015

When a merger is like a marriage

On this blog, we recently discussed how acquisitions can sometimes resemble the relationship between step-parents and step-children. Psychologists and economists have explored metaphors for the logistical, emotional and financial realities for companies in a merger. A more popular comparison writers make is between mergers and matrimony, as two companies make a permanent commitment to move forward together. Like a successful marriage, a successful merger makes a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts, and involves compromise on both sides to iron out details and communicate effectively. 

Whether those compromises happen in negotiations (like determining how to re-title the former CEO of the smaller company) or integration (deciding how to combine research and development labs) there is a marital give and take between businesses to ensure future successes. 

In tech publications, the marriage analogy manifests itself in buzzphrases: "the perfect marriage of x and y," or "a match made in heaven." Because the commitment companies make in a merger is so serious, it's an apt set of observations. To extend that metaphor, here are five examples of M&A situations that can resemble partnerships between people.