The 2014 Richard Beckhard Memorial Prize

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Cambridge, MA, August 19, 2014 — Today the editors of MIT Sloan Management Review announced that Hamid Bouchikhi and John R. Kimberly are the winners of the 2014 Richard Beckhard Memorial Prize, awarded to the authors of the most outstanding MIT SMR article on planned change and organizational development published from fall 2012 to summer 2013.

Prof. of Management John Kimberly
Prof. of Management John Kimberly

The prize was awarded for the article entitled “Making Mergers Work” from the Fall 2012 issue. Hamid Bouchikhi is a professor of management and entrepreneurship at ESSEC Business School in Cergy-Pontoise, France. John R. Kimberly is the Henry Bower Professor of Entrepreneurial Studies and a professor of management at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

In the prize-winning article, the authors examine why mergers and acquisitions so often fail to achieve the results and synergies they promise. They argue that much of the difficulty lies in the failure of executives of the acquiring company to seriously consider the quite different ways that not only operational but also psychological integration between previously separate corporate entities can be achieved.

“This article offers a pragmatic but novel perspective on the familiar and vexing problems managers face in merging organizations successfully,” according to the judges.

The authors identify four broad approaches to what they call “identity integration”: assimilation (where the identity of acquired company is dissolved into the identity of the acquiring company); confederation (whereby the identities of the acquired and acquirer are largely kept distinct); federation (where the identities of the merged companies are partially preserved while an overarching identity for the new organization is also created); and metamorphosis (whereby merged organizations are fused to form a new corporate identity). They suggest that managers would do well to conduct what they call an “identity audit” in conjunction with acquisition efforts in order to identify identity issues that may affect post-merger integration.

This year’s panel of judges consisted of distinguished members of the MIT Sloan School of Management faculty: Schussel Family Professor and chairman of the MIT Sloan Management Review managing board Erik Brynjolfsson, retired senior lecturer Cyrus Gibson and Erwin H. Schell Professor of Management John Van Maanen.

About Richard Beckhard and the Beckhard Prize

One of the founders and architects of the field of organizational development, Professor Richard Beckhard was a member of the MIT Sloan School of Management faculty for more than 20 years. A longtime friend of MIT Sloan Management Review, Beckhard was known for his efforts to help organizations function in a more humane and high-performing manner and to empower people to be agents of change.

About MIT Sloan Management Review

MIT Sloan Management Review leads the discourse among academic researchers, business executives and other influential thought leaders about advances in management practice that are transforming how people lead and innovate. MIT SMR disseminates new management research and innovative ideas so that thoughtful executives can capitalize on the opportunities generated by rapid organizational, technological and societal change.

Deborah Gallagher