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Riding the wave: Distributional properties and process explanations of merger and acquisition waves

Park, Jason Whan (2010) Riding the wave: Distributional properties and process explanations of merger and acquisition waves. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Although Mergers and Acquisitions (M&A) are potential value-creation opportunities, why they tend to occur in waves is a mystery to scholars and managers alike. Most models of M&A waves are unilevel, reductionist, and Gaussian, whereas wave patterns are arguably multi-level, emergent, and non-normally distributed. Using complexity theory, I interpret waves as emergent expressions of a self-organized critical ecology of firms conceptualized as a complex adaptive system. My observation that aggregate U.S. M&A waves from 1895 to 2008 are power-law-distributed lends support. The view that waves are self-organized critical phenomena, similar to earthquakes and avalanches, facilitates integration of prior wave theories. I then employ process-tracing to generate a historical narrative of the Great Merger Wave of 1898-1903, from which I obtain a robust process for waves consistent with a CAS interpretation of these phenomena: (1) a privatizing, market-expanding and financially innovating transportation network generates (2a) laissez-faire regulation, (2b) economic competition, and (2c) financial arbitrage, leading to (3) a burst of consolidation. My process explanation explains the power law's emergence, and may help to understand better the process dynamics of M&A waves.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Park, Jason
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairMadhavan, Ravindranathrmadhavan@katz.pitt.eduRAM115
Committee MemberMorel,
Committee MemberSchlingemann, Frederikschlinge@katz.pitt.eduSCHLINGE
Committee MemberPrescott, John Eprescott@katz.pitt.eduPRESCOTT
Committee MemberKim, Kevin Hkhkim@pitt.eduKHKIM
Committee MemberCohen, Susan Ksuecohen@katz.pitt.eduSUECOHEN
Date: 5 October 2010
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 28 April 2010
Approval Date: 5 October 2010
Submission Date: 26 July 2010
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business > Business Administration
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: complex adaptive system; complexity theory; emergence; Great Merger Wave; Merger and acquisition waves; power law; process tracing; punctuated equilibrium; qualitative methodologies; robust process; self-organized criticality
Other ID:, etd-07262010-121919
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 19:54
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:47


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