Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


This dissertation explores the phenomenon of mergers and acquisitions specifically, law firm M&As. M&As have been described as one of the most significant and powerful methods by which organizations grow. They can also be an important form of corporate development and strategic renewal. However, despite the long history and importance of M&As, research has yielded mainly equivocal results concerning what makes some succeed and others fail. Further, a number of researchers have called for more research on the managerial processes of M&As recognizing that the process of merging has been largely ignored by researchers. Therefore, the goal of this study was to examine the managerial processes involved in M&As and the basic research question that drove this research was: "What are the critical management tasks associated with effective pre and post merger management?";The research employed an inductive approach, building knowledge from an iterative combination of empirical evidence and theory, and involved a four phase research design: conceptual development, pilot, theoretical replication, and analysis and explanatory phases. Ten law firm mergers, involving firms from across Canada, were studied in-depth. Mergers were chosen to represent three different levels of integration: preservation, absorption, and symbiosis.;The findings strongly support those researchers who have argued that M&A success and failure has more to do with the processes of merging than with the variables captured in prevailing performance-oriented studies. The results also challenge the treatment of M&As as relatively homogenous economic events. For example, size differences can be important and it was evident that there is quite a difference between "two whales mating and a whale swallowing a minnow." Further, "living together versus a long distance relationship" involves very different merger dynamics. Specific to law firms mergers was the critical importance of the need for good 'organizational fit' between firms, and the importance of strong leadership throughout the merger process. In particular, seven critical leadership behaviours associated with effective merger management are described. The research also contributes to the literature on professional service firms, and provides some normative prescriptions for practitioners.



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