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We study the conflict that can occur in a merger due to firms' use of specialized language, or “code,” and whether participants accurately forecast this difficulty. After creating a shared code to describe different pictures accurately, subjects bid for extra payments to join a merged group. The two lowest bidders are placed in the merged group. Values inferred from two different bidding procedures indicate fairly accurate general appraisals of the cost of the merger, but the values of those subjects who bid the least, and choose to join the merged group, are too optimistic, reflecting an “organizational winner's curse.” (JEL D23, D83, G34, L21, M14)