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Keywords:

  • acquisitions;
  • experience;
  • learning

Abstract

I use an organizational learning perspective to examine how the nature, performance and timing of a firm's acquisition experience helps it to learn how to select the right acquisition. I predict the performance of 214 acquisitions made by 120 firms in 6 industries between 1990 and 1995. Results show that a firm's focal acquisition performance positively relates to prior acquisitions that are a) not highly similar or dissimilar to the focal acquisition, b) associated with small losses and c) not too temporally close to or distant from the focal acquisition. Taken together, these results identify the broad conditions in which firms generate adaptive and timely inferences from acquisition experience. Copyright © 2002 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.