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$1,201 pledged of $15,000 goal
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By Dr. J. Keith Dunbar
$1,201 pledged of $15,000 goal
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About this project

What am I doing?

I am raising funds to write the first mergers & acquisitions (M&A) book dedicated to the role and impact leadership has on deal success or failure. The funds are intended to help me develop the manuscript before I take it to book publishers. To make my passion project a reality and change the future of how M&As are managed,  I need your help to be able to work with the right co-author and editor. They will collaborate with me to build a manuscript that integrates my doctoral research on M&A leadership with stories and case studies developed from interviews of c-level executives, managers, and employees experiences in M&As and the role leadership played in their particular deals. 

The book chapters will include, but not be limited to, the following:

  • Preface - Where my personal thank yous to all who contributed to this project will be...front and center
  • Chapter 1 - M&As as a Corporate Growth Strategy
  • Chapter 2 - Why M&As Fail
  • Chapter 3 - Is Culture or Leadership More Important in M&As?
  • Chapter 4 - Effects of Gender Leadership in M&As
  • Chapter 5 - Differences between Senior Executive and Middle Manager Leadership in M&As
  • Chapter 6 - Does M&A Leadership Differ in Corporate Functions? (Case reviews of corporate functions like operations, R&D, sales/marketing, human resources and more)
  • Chapter 7 - How Does M&A Leadership Vary Across Industry Sectors?
  • Chapter 8 - The Role of M&A Leadership Across Specific Countries, Geographies and Cross-Border M&As
  • Chapter 9 - Application of M&A Leadership Research on Successful M&As
  • Chapter 10 - M&As: Change the Mindset, Change the Model, Change the Outcome

So you might wonder how I came to this book topic and why I consider it vitally important. 

Read on.

Why Do M&As Fail?

If you are like many professionals, you have lived through at least one M&A, whether as the acquirer or target. If you have, you know that these events are very uncertain and ambiguous. Research indicates up to 70% fail to meet their stated objectives, and of those, 50% will destroy shareholder value. This is why M&As are the riskiest business endeavor businesses may make, and why they have such an immense effect on employees.

A huge amount of academic and consulting research has studied most aspects of M&As and the reasons why some succeed...and most fail. Some examples of reasons stated for failure are cultural mismatch, poor business strategy, or poor planning and execution. Leadership as a cause is ignored.

As such, I decided to focus my doctoral research on this ignored cause of M&A success (or failure). Why? The differences in great teams and companies almost always comes down to the quality of leaders in the organizations. Leadership is the lifeblood that determines whether an organization is viable, successful, innovative, and vibrant. So, why should M&As be any different? 

M&As are inherently people-driven change events. I hypothesized that the skills of leaders from both acquirers and targets are absolutely, positively critical to deal success. 

It's about Leadership Stupid!

With a research data set of over 30,000 360-degree leadership assessments, I sought to understand the impact of leadership on M&As. More specifically, I wanted to know what leadership skills might predict M&A success (or the opposite). What I found was that of the 30 leadership skills in the research data set, certain leadership skills for acquirers and targets predicted M&A success: by gender, managerial level, corporate function, specific industry sectors,  countries, specific geographic regions and cross-border deals. Some of the new M&A leadership insights gained through my groundbreaking research included the following:

  • While senior executives had a greater effect on acquirer M&A success, middle managers had a greater effect on target M&A success.
  • Many acquisitions are made in certain industry sectors to gain access to innovative products and capabilities. Innovation management was a predictor of M&A success for target companies.
  • Successful acquirers have leadership skills, such as lead change, shows adaptability, fosters teamwork, and builds relationships. All are critical for a successful M&A integration.

As a result of my pioneering research in this area, companies can change the odds of their M&A success in their favor by focusing on what I believe is the foundational element...leadership!

Together We Can Change M&A Outcomes

Now, with these unique M&A leadership insights, together we can create a book based on the findings to improve the odds I wrote about earlier. If, collectively, we could help organizations understand the importance of having leaders that inspire trust, build relationships, and motivate others to help both acquirer and target employees though these volatile periods and ensure these deals are successful on a variety of critical fronts (e.g., employee retention and morale, financial considerations), wouldn't that be worth an investment?

Risks and challenges

1. Lack of quality interviews with organizational leaders that have participated in M&As as the acquirer, target, or both in order to develop rich stories and case studies to help explain key aspects of my research and how leadership might have impacted these interviewees M&A success or lack there of. To overcome this challenge, I will continue to identify people with stories to share in order to develop the right set for this book project.

2. This project requires approval and/or pre-market review from a book publisher before I can distribute book rewards. While there are a number of M&A books on the market that focus on a number of different aspects of M&As including Human Resources, culture, and integration, there are no books that explicitly focus on the topic of leadership in M&As. I will diligently work with a number of publishers to find the right one to publish this book and get my rewards out to those that support my book project. Expectation is mid-2017.

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $10 or more About $10

    Receive an autographed copy of Dr. Dunbar's September 2014 Harvard Business Review article, The Leaders That Make M&A Work and acknowledgement of your support in the book.

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    Receive an e-book version of the book for downloading, and acknowledgement of your support in the book.

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    Receive a copy of this book once published and acknowledgement of your support in the book.

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    Receive an autographed copy of this book once published, acknowledgement of your support in the book, and a personal phone call from the author thanking you for your help.

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    Pledge $250 or more About $250

    One-on-one Skype session with author, autographed copy of book once published with a personal message, and acknowledgement of your support in the book.

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    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    Receive a one hour webinar discussing my M&A leadership research and application to your specific M&A strategy, five autographed copies of book once published, and acknowledgement of your support in the book

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    Pledge $1,000 or more About $1,000

    Receive a one hour webinar discussing my M&A leadership research with you and your team, 10 copies of book for your organization, one partial M&A Collective Leadership Risk Assessment (CLRA) of an M&A deal of your choice that includes the risk assessment only, one hour of consulting on your findings, and acknowledgement of your support in the book.

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    Pledge $2,500 or more About $2,500

    Receive a one hour webinar discussing my M&A leadership research with you and your team, 15 copies of the book for your organization, one complete M&A Collective Leadership Risk Assessment (CLRA) of an M&A deal of your choice that includes the risk assessment and Leadership Integration Plan, two hours of consulting on your findings and acknowledgement of your support in the book.

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Funding period

- (60 days)