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From Fit to Fitting: A routine dynamics perspective on M&A synergy realization

Mirc, Nicola; Sele, Kathrin; Rouzies, Audrey; Angwin, Duncan

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Nicola Mirc

Kathrin Sele

Audrey Rouzies

Duncan Angwin


Many mergers and acquisitions (M&A) fail to achieve anticipated synergistic benefits. The combination of resources and processes is particularly difficult. This paper uses a routine dynamics perspective to study an acquisition in the consultancy sector where the strategy of combining two routines, designed to commercialize a new offer, failed. Zooming in on the micro dynamics of synergy realization, we show how the envisioned design was challenged only once the combined routine was enacted. The joint performance of the routine revealed incompatibilities at three levels: within the combined routine; with adjacent routines; and across the merging organizations. We identify two mechanisms that drive these incompatibilities: conflicting actors’ intentions and conflicting organizational norms. We discuss how synergy realization requires both the converging of intentions and norms and the interweaving of actions, routines, and organizations. Our paper contributes to M&A research by challenging the notion of “fit” as a prerequisite for success and by developing the notion of “fitting” as an unfolding process, i.e., through a design–action loop in which sources of incompatibilities are revealed and adjusted. We elucidate the dynamic and iterative nature of synergy realization and argue for a rethinking of pre- and post-acquisition periods as fundamentally interlinked. We also contribute to research on routine dynamics by enhancing the understanding of routine interdependencies and the intentionality of routines in cross-organizational settings.


Mirc, N., Sele, K., Rouzies, A., & Angwin, D. (2023). From Fit to Fitting: A routine dynamics perspective on M&A synergy realization. Organization Studies, 44(9), 1465–1490.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Nov 30, 2022
Online Publication Date Dec 19, 2022
Publication Date 2023-09
Deposit Date Feb 1, 2023
Publicly Available Date Feb 3, 2023
Journal Organization Studies
Print ISSN 0170-8406
Electronic ISSN 1741-3044
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 44
Issue 9
Pages 1465–1490
Public URL
Publisher URL


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