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Monday, February 14, 2005

Mergers & Acquisitions - No Shortcut To Innovation

In an insightful comment, Joyce Wycoff writes, Any company can innovate - few can sustain innovation. Over the past twenty years, management literature has featured a constantly changing kaleidoscope of "hot" companies, including Enron which was voted most innovative company for seven years before imploding under a dog-eat-dog competitive system that fostered the worst possible behaviors,as well as some of the best. It's relatively easy to develop the next new thing - once.It takes a completely different approach to develop a long-term innovation engine.It starts with a mindset that seems to be outside the norm in today's business climate where SBC would rather buy AT&T and risk billions than develop the internal competency needed to create the future of the company. US companies now have over a trillion dollars in cash, so, once again, they are trying to buy growth rather than develop an innovation competency.All of this money spent in spite of the fact that more than half of all corporate mergers fail to create substantial returns for shareholders according to a study by A. T. Kearney, Inc. And, innovation guru, Gary Hamel, calls this the mating of dinosaurs and finds no correlation between size and profitability. "You don't get a gazelle by breeding dinosaurs," he concludes.
An article in "Strategy & Leadership" by Woodside Institute authors conclude that "a strategy of developing a competency of innovation is more effective than acquisitions and mergers over the long-term.Though sometimes effective in the short term, this strategy of innovation through acquisition usually fails because the acquiring corporation overestimates the value of synergies and underestimates the post-merger integration difficulties".

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