Mergers & Acquisitions.. just like a marriage

Lessons from anthropology

Jitske Kramer


Many mergers are a major undertaking for leaders and employees. Months and sometime even years later there are still different blood groups. If you know what to expect, then it’s easier. Mergers are as old as humankind. We have known for a long time how people, families and tribes merge and what to do to ensure that the new relationship is a promising one. We call this marriage, in which entire kinship systems intermingle. Organizations can tap into a lot of wisdom and experiences from people all over the world.

Powerful anthropological lessons that allow mergers & acquisitions to be successful.

In this keynote, you will learn how different groups can bond with each other. From choosing the new name, to the location, the internal power relationships and the power of the ‘liminal phase’ between the old and the new situation. A keynote about organizations, but not in the usual management jargon. We consider questions such as; who is going to move in with whom? How do we set the dowry? Is this romantic love, a shotgun wedding or an arranged marriage? Is this a marriage of equals or is there a kidnapped bride? Can we maintain our own identity intact if we merge with a much bigger partner? Who’s going to be the new chief? What will it be like to work with “them” later? Are our processes and procedures very different? What will happen to our identity?

Book a keynote or masterclass


During a masterclass there is more time for questions and how to translate the topics to your organization. We’ll use our intake session to discuss the focus and the topics that need more exploration. The participants will work in smaller groups within the framework provided to discuss the current or imminent merger. Which rituals are required to facilitate and reinforce this process?

We much prefer giving this keynote / masterclass to both of the merger partners together. For example, on the eve of the merger. The lecture can also be given to the parties separately, so that they may get to know their own strengths before every one says, “I do”. We can also provide the lecture on the day of the merger itself and guide the “vows” in a suitable manner.

About us

HumanDimensions looks at companies and organizations through the eyes of an anthropologist. How do people shape cultures and cultures shape people? We travel around the world looking for ways of building strong tribes, safe for diversity and ready for change. And we bring our findings to the world of organizing and cooperating through our excellent keynote speeches, master classes and training courses. Deep Democracy. Inclusion. Diversity. Organizational culture. Leadership.

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