Course Manager

Course Overview

This is a 10 week, six credit elective.

In 2013, over 30,000 mergers and acquisitions were announced worldwide, with a total transaction value of over $3 trillion.  Experts estimate that only 25-30% of these transactions will deliver expected financial returns, and many will be spectacular failures.

One reason why so many acquisitions disappoint is that the buyers focus on the financial aspect of an acquisition and fail to integrate the other two important aspects of the M&A process – strategic and human – when anticipating and measuring the results of the transaction.

This course will focus on integrating all three dimensions of mergers and acquisitions – strategic, financial, and human – to help organizations anticipate and handle the pain and realize the gain of an acquisitive transaction.

Our proposition is that important lessons can be learned from both successful and failed mergers; the course will blend theory and practice in each lesson and in our residential sessions students will hear from deal-makers who will share decades of experiences and insights.

Course Objectives

The learning objectives are as follows:

  • to discover the drivers of a successful merger from a strategic perspective – what makes the whole greater than the sum of its parts?
  • to understand the financial measurements that are applied to acquisitive transactions and the meaning of key analytical ratios and terms.
  • to learn the commonly encountered steps that ensure a successful merger from the HR perspective
  • to examine several case studies of recent M&A transactions to i) identify the steps they did and did not take, and ii) assess outcomes based on the measures of success established above.
  • to create a checklist or set of process steps for an M&A team when a merger or acquisition looms: what to do, what lessons to learn.
  • to define a set of core competencies that managers and leaders need to adopt in order to facilitate a successful merger – one that achieves the creative, human, and financial goals the acquisitive process.


Course Outline

This elective is a combination of on-line and in-residence experiences.  The online portion of the course is a series of lessons with guided discussions over a seven-week period preceding the in-residence week, which is followed by a two-week period of reflection and work on the final assignment.

The in-residence week will be spent in a combination of teaching, teamwork, case studies, and individual study all focused around merger and acquisition issues.  The in-residence week will feature guest lectures from industry leaders who have successfully led the merger and acquisition process in their firms.  They will share their personal experience and perspectives and provide valuable insight into the process from the unique perspective of the active practitioner.

The mid-term assignment is a short, graded presentation that will be made by each student during the in-residence week.  The final assignment is a research paper of no more than 5,000 words that will be due two weeks after the in-residence week is completed.  The paper will give the students an opportunity to identify a target and prepare an acquisition plan, drawing upon the lessons and residential activities.

During the in-residence week, students can expect to work all day and some evenings on coursework and team projects. Each student is expected to contribute equally to her or his team’s workload and to class discussions. It is compulsory that students be available to their team and be present for all meals and activities outlined on the program agenda and/or course outline.