Date of Award

Winter 12-8-2018

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Organizational Leadership

First Advisor

Cheryl-Marie Hansberger

Second Advisor

Jeneane Prince

Third Advisor

Jamison Keller


Purpose. The purpose of this qualitative study was to explore middle managers’ perceptions about how organizations managed job-related, structural, and strategic uncertainty during a merger and acquisition (M&A) integration process. Furthermore, this research investigated what strategies middle managers perceived effective and ineffective for managing uncertainty and recommendations for managing uncertainty during future integrations.

Methodology. This qualitative study utilized a phenomenological research design that collected data through open-ended interviews. Fifteen middle managers participated in the study and were asked 12 questions that explored their perceptions about managing uncertainty during an M&A integration.

Findings. Overall, participants perceived strategic uncertainty was managed well, structural uncertainty was managed poorly, and job-related uncertainty was mixed. Effective strategies for managing job-related uncertainty focused on communication, whereas effective strategies for managing strategic and structural uncertainty included clear visions, defined roles and responsibilities, and opportunities to collaborate. Recommendations for managing all types of uncertainty were related to communicating, planning, interacting as a team, and valuing employees.

Conclusions. Most organizations are not managing M&A processes well. Companies need to adequately manage information from the onset of the M&A until full integration is achieved to avoid adverse effects and reduce uncertainty. Communication through in-person roadshows, websites, and newsletters helped employees gain a better understanding of why the change was occurring, which reduced uncertainty. Organizations could better use middle managers during M&A processes to create structure, build trust, disseminate information, and reduce uncertainty, which could lead to a more successful integration process.

Recommendations. The success of an M&A often pivots on the integration process. Additional academic and applied research is needed to build on the body of knowledge about M&As, with specific emphasis given to the integration process. During an M&A, executives need to establish the direction for the integration process and prioritize intentional communication. A dedicated integration team should be appointed to develop a comprehensive integration plan, implement the plan, and monitor the integration process to ensure appropriate course corrections. Middle managers should be given additional training to best support the M&A integration process.