Learning through acquisitions

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