Acquisitions and Organizational Purpose

55 Pages Posted: 26 Mar 2021 Last revised: 29 Sep 2022

See all articles by Claudine Madras Gartenberg

Claudine Madras Gartenberg

Wharton School, University of Penn

Shun Yiu

The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania

Date Written: September 17, 2022


Purpose is undergoing a resurgence of interest across research and practice. Yet we know little about how it relates to strategy, and specifically how strategic actions reinforce or undermine purpose in organizations. This study explores this question in the context of acquisitions. We examine 831 transactions, using data from approximately 1.6 million employees to construct our measure of purpose. We find that, on average, employees’ sense of purpose drops after acquisitions. This drop is particularly pronounced among firms that undertake unique acquisitions, those involving unusual industry combinations. This relationship has implications for the performance of the transaction. Altogether, our findings suggest a possible tension between strategic and motivational consequences of boundary changes. Firms may benefit strategically from these changes, particularly those that enable expansion into unique areas. These same actions, however, may also erode the purpose of the organization, with consequences for downstream performance.

Keywords: Mergers and Acquisitions, Corporate Purpose, Corporate Strategy

Suggested Citation

Gartenberg, Claudine Madras and Yiu, Shun, Acquisitions and Organizational Purpose (September 17, 2022). Available at SSRN: or

Claudine Madras Gartenberg (Contact Author)

Wharton School, University of Penn ( email )

2035 Steinberg-Dietrich Hall
3620 Locust Walk
Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States
2158987755 (Phone)

Shun Yiu

The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania ( email )

3620 Locust Walk
Steinberg-Dietrich Hall
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6370
United States

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