Date of Award

Winter 12-17-2020

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Business Administration (DBA)

First Advisor

Erich Dierdorff

Second Advisor

Robert Rubin

Third Advisor

Sanjay Deshmukh


Analyses of mergers and acquisitions (M&A) across industries are prevalent in the literature. Yet, this research reveals that at least half, if not more, of all M&A activity fails to meet strategic, operational, and financial objectives, and can result in declining employee and customer satisfaction. The research herein develops a model framework for alternative growth strategies in the architecture/engineering (A/E) industry, with a specific focus on the antecedents of successful M&A among A/E professional service firms (PSFs).At the center of the model is the Resource Based View of the Firm, where leadership capacity, cash, and capital flows yield an affordable means to a competitive advantage through the accumulation of necessary talent. For A/E PSFs, talent acquisition and top-line growth through market, service area, geographic, and client complementarity, along with circumspect levels of diversification, provide opportunities for firm differentiation, enhanced reputation, and greater shareholder value. In addition, positive outcomes to the buyer-seller dyad, through the exchange in price-to-earnings ratios, provide a unique value creation opportunity in the industry. These are the primary, effective antecedents for M&A activity; however, driving for economies of scope/scale (revenue/cost synergies) and other external, sell-side, and risk management factors play a substantive role as well. While many of the cross-industry failures of M&A transactions are known to result from the post-merger integration (PMI) process, and issues surrounding culture are typically cited, this research focuses on the role of Self-determination Theory and individual-level autonomy, a critical and basic need of all employees, but especially important to PSF staff.Using Penrose Theory (management capacity), as well as authentic leadership and organizational justice tenets as a basis, mediating and moderating outcomes of the PMI process were developed and tested for the A/E PSF industry in North America.