To be or not to be sustainable? Solving the dilemma during the acquisition process

  • Angeloantonio Russo
  • Vincenzo Vastola
  • Clodia Vurro
Keywords: acquisition performance, corporate sustainability, strategic orientation


Purpose of the paper: This study aims at explaining heterogeneity in M&A performance in the light of companies’ orientation towards sustainability.

Methodology: We first make use of our main independent variables by measuring the sustainability orientation of the acquiring firms and their detailed social or environmental orientation toward sustainability. Then, relying on a unique dataset of 174 acquisitions, we apply regression analysis to address our research questions.

Findings: Our results show how acquirers’ ability to intensively and extensively commit to sustainability in relation to large environmental concerns, fosters acquisition performance. Further, we contribute to the literature by expanding our knowledge on the effects of a sustainability-oriented strategy on acquisition performance.

Research limits: Despite building on previous research, our study is not exempt of limits, suffering precisely from common limitations associated with the use of scores as measures of strategic orientation.

Practical implications: Our findings highlight the relevance of companies’ ability to combine different strategic perspectives related to the value-generation process of M&A. Accordingly, our study has relevant implications for companies and practitioners that are involved in acquisition processes.

Originality of the paper: This study overcomes the profit-oriented perspective of the acquisition process while offering a more extensive picture of the factors affecting the success of M&A. Further, we disentangle the construct of sustainability orientation by distinguishing between social and environmental orientation and then investigating its effects on post-acquisition performance.


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