Acquisitions of divested business units: A typology and strategies for success

Patia McGrath*, Hugh O'Neill

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Acquisitions are notoriously difficult to execute successfully. Poor implementation of the postacquisition integration process is a major source of acquisition value destruction. To find new solutions for this vexing problem, we leverage the emerging, triadic view of mergers and acquisitions (M&A) activities, which emphasizes the interconnectedness between sellers, acquirers, and the units that are transferred between them. We apply the triadic lens to acquisitions of divested business units, and we find that a unit’s experiences with its seller before and during divestiture can profoundly shape the unit’s needs and expectations, which, in turn, must be addressed by the acquirer in the integration process. We identify four key mechanisms—status, resource accessibility, trust, and self-sufficiency—that underpin the seller’s impact on the divested unit, and we develop a typology—comprising favored, neglected, shocked, and independent units—that animates the ramifications of the seller’s actions. Then, for each type, we discern strategies for its postacquisition integration execution that are tailored to its distinctive needs, which originate from its experiences with the seller. To make these insights practical and readily implementable, we provide a diagnostic checklist for identifying the four types of divested units and offer an action plan of type-specific strategies for successfully managing them in the postacquisition integration process.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)691-706
Number of pages16
JournalBusiness Horizons
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2023
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 Kelley School of Business, Indiana University

Research programs

  • RSM S&E


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