The role of human resources as a business partner in the execution of effective change management in the mergers and acquisitions process

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Keane, Dena
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MA of Business Administration
Dublin Business School
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The purpose of this paper was to examine the role of human resources in carrying out effective change management during the mergers and acquisitions process while also identifying the elements necessary to carry out such change efficiently. This qualitative study begins by providing an overview of the increase in M&A activity over the past twenty years and the high failure rates associated with that. It touches on the reasons for these high failure rates being attributable in large part to cultural mismatches and a failure to address the softer issues of M&As. The literature reviewed provides a concise overview as to the concepts of corporate culture and its role in the change process, change management, the evolving role of HR as a strategic business partner and the performance management process. A mono-method of semi-structured interviews was undertaken for the purpose of collecting primary data with the areas examined in the literature forming the foundation for the line of questioning. The interviews centred on the themes of change management, corporate culture, HR as a business partner and M&As. Eight interviews were conducted in total, six with HR professionals and two with non-HR professionals so as to provide a more rounded perspective as to the role of HR and the elements contributing to M&A success. The findings indicate that strong leadership at a local level is the key to effectuating change with HR playing a central role in identifying who those key players are while also working with management to formulate a robust, consistent, detailed and structured communication plan that appeals to the individual at every level of the organisation; thus, linking individual goals with organisational goals. Author keywords: Change management, mergers and acquisitions, corporate culture, strategic human resources, performance management