Learning through acquisitions

by Freek Vermeulen, Harry Barkema
Academy of Management Journal ()


Research on acquisitions has typically focused on acquisitions per se, examining issues such as performance and implementation problems. This study moves beyond that perspective and studies the influence on a firm's later expansions. We argue that exploitation of a firm's knowledge base through "greenfields" eventually makes a firm simple and inert. In contrast, acquisitions may broaden a firm's knowledge base and decrease inertia, enhancing tbe viability of its later ventures. Over time, firms strike a balance between the use of greenfields and acquisitions. Various implications of this theory—tested with survival analysis and "logit" models—were strongly corroborated.

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