Managing Uncertainty During a Corporate Acquisition

A Longitudinal Study of Communication During an Airline Acquisition


Michael W. Kramer, Department of Communication, 115 Switzler Hall, University of Missouri, Columbia, Missouri 65211; email:


This study examined pilots' (N at T1 = 140; N at T2 = 126; N at T3 = 104) reactions to communication and uncertainty during the acquisition of their airline by another airline. Quantitative results indicate that communication helped to reduce uncertainty and was predictive of affective responses to the acquisition. However, contrary to expectations, reductions in uncertainty did not lead to more positive affective responses. In addition, while pilots felt more job security over time, they developed less positive attitudes toward the acquisition. Qualitative data indicated that this occurred because the pilots felt more secure about having a job since the acquiring organization was more financially solvent, but that they were dissatisfied with how their seniority was credited. These results contribute to an increased understanding of the complex relationships among communication, uncertainty, and outcomes in organizational contexts.