The impact of organizational and national cultural differences on social conflict and knowledge transfer in international acquisitions

Günter Stahl, E. Vaara, R. Sarala, I. Björkman

Publication: Scientific journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


The purpose of this paper is to elucidate the effects of organizational and national
cultural differences on international acquisitions. We argue that cultural differences prompt
social identity building that leads to 'us versus them' thinking and thereby creates the potential
for social conflict. We also maintain that the same cultural differences can contribute to
learning in terms of knowledge transfer. We develop a structural equation model to test these
hypothesized effects on a sample of related international acquisitions. Our analysis shows that
cultural differences at the organizational level are positively associated with social conflict, but
that national cultural differences can decrease social conflict. Furthermore, both organizational
and national cultural differences are positively associated with knowledge transfer. This
analysis shows the importance of disentangling the various effects that cultural differences have
on international acquisitions. It also suggests that national cultural differences are less of a
problem in international acquisitions than is usually assumed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1 - 27
JournalJournal of Management Studies (JMS)
Issue number49
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2012

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