The Reproduction of Efficiency Theory: The Construction of the AstraZeneca Merger in the Public Discourse

Bo Hellgren, Jan Löwstedt, Andreas Werr


Mergers have become a generally accepted solution to a broad set of managerial problems in practice. However,
research on mergers and acquisitions provides a rather sceptical view as to the success of mergers in solving
business problems. The current paper aims at investigating the public discourse on mergers and acquisitions and
its relation to the scientific discourse. The public discourse is studied by an analysis of Swedish media reports on
the Astra Zeneca merger. More specifically we study the actors given voice in the discourse, the temporal
evolution of the discourse and the arguments voiced. We conclude that the discourse is dominated by journalists,
managers and financial analysts who all generate arguments based on a rather narrow “efficiency theoretical”
basis. This is in conflict with current insights in research on mergers and acquisitions that has proposed more
valid and complex models for understanding mergers. The reasons and consequences of this discrepancy
between the public and the scientific discourses are discussed.

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