We hear time and time and again that culture is essential in an M&A deal. It's this big word that most people even refuse to talk about because of its broad scope and complexities.
Some M&A professionals even believe that cultural differences cannot kill a deal, but not Dawn White, Program Manager & Change Management Lead at Corning Incorporated. She believes that cultural factors can be deal killers and that we all should start assessing culture as early as possible.
"Even if we're going into a situation where we know the cultures are vastly different, it doesn't mean the deal won't be successful. It just means we have to do a lot of work" - Dawn White
If you plan to leave the acquired company as a standalone business, then culture won't matter much. But even in these types of deals, a light cultural assessment can be beneficial. You can help them increase their efficiency by sharing knowledge, technology, and best practices. All of which you will be able to determine in a cultural assessment.
However, if you are planning on integrating, cultural differences have a massive impact on integration. It may hinder you from achieving some of the synergies you initially planned, which is the deal's entire purpose.
As a product of various research, Dawn uses a 5 section cultural assessment report, including an executive summary, similarities and differences section, cultural themes section, paradox section, and a recommendation section. All were gathered via one-on-one interviews, focus group sessions, surveys, and onsite observations.
All of these approaches have a place in the assessment process. Each will give you a different perspective and look at the entirety of their culture. It is also important to note that you need leadership buy-in for the recommendations. It will give you the authority to drive the completion of the work.