Merger & Acquisition Case Study – IBM / Lenovo

When reviewing a merger and acquisition that’s on the docket, it’s important to consider what the changes are and how it will affect both companies as they combine.  To give yourself a good starting point, ask the below questions:


  • Most mergers and acquisitions fail. Why?
  • Background information on IBM and Lenovo.

The Change: Merger and Acquisition

  • The drivers of change: What was the reason for the change?
  • Why did IBM sell?
  • Why did Lenovo buy?
    • Benefits and costs to each company
    • Perspective of each company (in looking at a potential change)
    • Objectives of the change
    • The actual deal that was made
  • Strategic issues the two companies face as a result of the change: e.g. cultural differences between a Chinese company and an American company.
    • What measures, if any, were taken to deal with these issues?
    • How effective were the measures?
  • Any resistance from stakeholders? Who? Why? How was it dealt with?
  • Measurements and evaluations of the results (as compared to the objectives of the deal)
    • How were the results measured by the companies?
  • Based on the analysis, was the merger and acquisition successful?


  • What should have been done differently (Change frameworks can be applied throughout this section as we compare what the companies did and what they should have done)
    • Before the change took place
      • Develop and communicate a vision
      • Develop a guiding coalition
      • Keep employees up-to-date with information and changes (engage them and encourage participation)
    • During the change
      • Continue communication
      • Move employees from resistance to support
        • Address employee problems with change as they occur
      • As they reach the change goal
        • Celebrate small wins
        • Emphasize culture of continuous improvement
        • Refreeze new behaviors
        • Continue addressing resistance
      • After the change
        • Measurement of effectiveness
          • What information to collect (sales numbers, employee satisfaction, employee turnover, etc.)
          • When to collect
          • How to collect
          • Analyze data
        • What can be done now (since we can’t change the past)


  • Why the change was successful or why it failed
  • Summarize recommendations for what can be done now

The HR issues in the merger and acquisition process

What the issues are and how the organizations handled them, and how they fall within change management frameworks.

  • What is the role of HR and HR strategy in this this process. How can HR increase the success rate?
  • Knowledge and skills that a change agent needs to have.
  • Suggestions for the type of preparation/training HR group should have prior to the transaction.
  • What support should be provided?

Mergers and acquisitions are tough, so it’s smart to prepare for the change by considering the above questions to get ready for it and plan in advance.