Strategic alliances in emerging markets : an investigation of the effects of culture and emerging market characteristics on the performance of acquisitions in Eastern Europe
The objective of this study is to investigate the effects of culture - national, organisational, and regional - on the performance of strategic alliances (mergers, acquisitions, or joint ventures) in Eastern Europe. From a research perspective Eastern Europe is very much `virgin territory', in which the effect of Western European management techniques and processes should be uniquely detectable as few have previously existed. There are schools of thought that suggest that because of the years of Soviet domination there may be homogeneity of organisational cultures in the region, which will make the effect of national cultural differences easy to detect. Further, freedom from communism will result in the newly liberated economies exhibiting similar `emerging market' characteristics as the economies evolve, hence pointing towards some homogeneity of regional influences. Alternatively, many observers suggest that Eastern Europe, having been freed from Soviet domination, is re-establishing latent forms of free market systems that have been dormant during the Soviet era, and consequently the markets' development can be thought of as 'reemergence'. These issues of cultural differences and emerging market characteristics have not been previously researched at the organisational level in this environment. Hitherto international strategic alliances have largely been unsuccessful from the viewpoints of either management or investors. The reasons for this are thought to lie in the implementation phase of the management of the alliance, as it is now recognised that value can only be added after the deal or agreement has been signed. Within the implementation phase, cultural integration is thought to be the major challenge. Cultural integration may have different challenges in Eastern Europe because of the issues outlined above. An exploratory study based on inductive methods has established that there is nohomogeneity of organisational cultures in the region. The findings are in accordance with the small group of researchers who suggest that is the manner in which different cultures are managed, rather than the cultural differences themselves, which creates a basis for successful integration. Additionally, two factors, the effects of experience and reputation, not prominent in the management literature, are identified as important in the integration process. It is postulated that success in managing the integration process is a function of organisational capability as much as the adoption of a formulaic process based on best practice or theoretical considerations, and a model for assessing such capability is proposed. The findings suggest that the markets of Eastern Europe are following patterns of `reemergence' rather than `emergence', and the study questions whether in fact emerging markets display common characteristics which are observable at the level of the firm.