The integration of acquired or merging firms is a key driver of the success or failure of mergers and acquisitions (M&As). Over the last 30 years, a substantial body of research has addressed M&A integration, offering rich but widely dispersed insights into this phenomenon. This paper takes stock of the current knowledge, based on a review of articles published in scholarly journals. The review advances the conceptual understanding of the phenomenon by inductively developing an overarching framework for the M&A integration literature, where integration success is a function of context, structural and communication-based interventions, which interact with collective sensemaking processes and negotiations among integration stakeholders. Based on this framework, a research agenda is suggested. I proposes that, in particular, the interaction between structural interventions and leadership warrants further study. Also, little is known about integration project management and integration team composition or the interaction between integration context and collective sensemaking processes. Finally, there is a shortage of research on temporal dynamics within integration projects. The review demonstrates that M&A scholars made substantial progress regarding our understanding of the M&A integration process, yet much remains to be done.
John Wiley & Sons, 2016.