This paper examines bi-cultural talent in relation to human resource management (HRM) practices in cross-cultural merger and acquisitions (M&A). The intersection of HRM, bi-cultural talent management and cross-cultural M&A literature proposes a conceptual framework to capture the complexity of bi-cultural talent management and reveals the dominant macro-characterization of the extant HRM literature focussing on a more micro-orientated perspective. The paper develops a matrix by underlining spatial dimensions (spanning micro-aspects of the individual employee through to the macro-entity of firm and its location in the macro-national cultural context) and temporal dimensions (consisting of pre-merger, during merger and post-merger phases). This provides a template which examines the multi-level dynamics of bi-cultural talent management. The argument identifies ways in which extant cross-cultural lenses require deeper understanding of bi-cultural talent management in M&A settings. Future research directions and agendas are identified.
Cross-cultural collaborations - whether strategic alliances, joint venture or mergers and acquisitions (M&A) - can be a rewarding experience for organizations, however, equally, they can also constitute fraught and challenging undertakings (Angwin & Vaara, 2005; Liu, Sarala, Cooper, & Xing, 2017). As a mode of collaborative partnership, M&As have been long employed by many organizations, ranging from small to multinational enterprises in the pursuit of a range of goals, including: rapid domestic and global growth and development (Bagdadli, Hayton, & Perfido, 2014; Graebner, Eisenhardt, & Roundy, 2010); corporate ‘sharks’ acquiring high-tech firms in order to access novel knowledge bases and to ignite innovation (Graebner & Eisenhardt, 2004); emerging market firms venturing into advanced economies (Liu et al., 2017; Liu & Vrontis, 2017); shared mental modes of teams in M&A may facilitate innovation (Dao, Strobl, Bauer, & Tarba, 2017), or, maturing born-global firms utilizing M&A as a lever to survive or precipitate fast growth (Almor, Tarba, & Margalit, 2014). Nevertheless, the consequences of collaborative partnerships for firm performance have been the topic of considerable debate, with many studies reporting high failure rates over a period of time (Cartwright & Cooper, 1992; Graebner, Heimeriks, Huy, & Vaara, 2016; Weber, Tarba, & Öberg, 2014). Much of this work has taken place within what may be described as a ‘macro-’ frame of reference by which it is meant that the work has a tendency to focus on broad conceptualizations of ‘organization’, ‘manager’ and even ‘individual’ (Quah & Young, 2005). Extant work casts these as ‘units’ for analysis, so to speak and perhaps offers less of a ‘lived experience’ – one perhaps dealing with the everyday felt realities of post-M&A contexts (Knights & Willmott, 1999). In counterpoint, there is a nascent literature examining identity and individuals from a more ‘micro-’ or lived experience and identity perceptive in post-M&A settings (Bartels, Douwes, Jong, & Pruyn, 2006; Björkman, Stahl, & Vaara, 2007; Terry, Carey, & Callan, 2001; Xing & Liu, 2016). While this literature on the M&A domain has offered many valuable insights, the ability to predict success through M&A remains poor.