Defense Date

Spring 4-17-2019

Degree Type


Degree Name



Business Administration

Committee Chair/First Advisor

Dr. Torsten Pieper

Committee Member or Co-Chair

Dr. Joseph Astrachan


Dr. Anne Smith


Mergers and acquisitions (M&A) are a popular strategy to grow a firm. The prevalent view is that large, publicly traded non-family firms acquire much smaller, usually privately held firms, many of which are family owned. This view neglects, however, that family firms also utilize M&A to grow. Moreover, the vast majority of companies – even the largest – are family controlled. However, we know little about why and how family firms use M&A as a growth strategy. Furthermore, the M&A process – defined as pre-acquisition decision making and post-acquisition integration – is different when families take on the role of the acquirer, rather than the target of the acquisition. To explore this phenomenon, this study used an inductive, grounded theory approach. Data for this study originated from interviews with family firms. Theoretical sampling of family firms that used M&A included 11 firms and 16 informants. Constant comparative method allowed for inductively organizing codes into broader categories and categories into themes. In addition, four M&A experts were interviewed for replication logic. Analysis for this study yielded seven themes, which challenge the generalizability of extant M&A literature to the family firm context. Finally, a M&A process for the family firms included in this study emerged.