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A Merger Is Like Getting Married

MERGERS are a fact of business life today. Often, however, they are managed badly. ``It's like getting married,'' says Rosabeth Moss Kanter. ``There is a lot of attention paid to making it the best wedding and honeymoon, but no one plans beyond that.''

Here is Dr. Kanter's advice to those who get caught in the middle of one.

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To the acquiring company: Meet as quickly as possible with the company you're taking over and communicate your intentions and timetable. Let the employees know quickly that there will be cuts.

``You must manage this part with candor and advance notice.''

If you wait, Kanter says, ``people in the company you acquired polish off their r'esum'es. You don't want the talent to walk out the door.''

Kanter would create a lot of joint task forces. ``The point is to get people involved and actively planning the future. It makes them want to stay long enough to at least participate in some of that.''

To the acquired company:

Get to know the new parents quickly. Push them for answers. Go to them with plans and ideas. Don't be passive about decisions as if they are the successful conqueror. Think about the value of the new combination.

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