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The intergroup sensitivity effect in mergers and acquisitions: Testing the role of merger motives

Type of publication Peer-reviewed
Publikationsform Original article (peer-reviewed)
Author Liang Shuang, Ullrich Johannes, Dick Rolf, Lupina‐Wegener Anna,
Project Identity construction in organizations nested in larger structures: a multiple case study of Sino-European M&As
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Original article (peer-reviewed)

Journal Journal of Applied Social Psychology
Page(s) jasp.12785 - jasp.12785
Title of proceedings Journal of Applied Social Psychology
DOI 10.1111/jasp.12785

Open Access

Type of Open Access Publisher (Gold Open Access)


Research has shown that people are more defensive to criticism when it stems from an outgroup member, compared to an ingroup member (the intergroup sensitivity effect: ISE). We conducted two online vignette experiments to examine the ISE in the context of an organizational merger and the role of merger motives for the ISE. We predicted that the ISE would also emerge in mergers and acquisitions (M&As), but people would respond less negatively to criticism from the outgroup when the motive for the merger is described as achieving synergies rather than growth. In Experiment 1 (N = 452), which did not mention any motives behind the acquisition, a significant ISE emerged. Experiment 2 (N = 587) again showed an ISE regardless of the merger motive. In both experiments, the ISE was mediated by perceptions of the outgroup criticism as less legitimate and constructive. Overall, this research points to the intergroup sensitivity effect as a relevant phenomenon during post-merger integration.