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Social capital transfer and professional service firm acquisition Open Access


Other title
mergers and acquisitions
professional service firms
social capital transfer
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
McDougald, Megan Susan
Supervisor and department
Greenwood, Royston (Business)
Examining committee member and department
Lounsbury, Michael (Business)
Dyck, Bruno (Business, University of Manitoba)
Reay, Trish (Business)
Washington, Marvin (Physical Education)
School of Business

Date accepted
Graduation date
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
This study examined how to best transfer social capital during professional service firm acquisitions. Using a qualitative, multiple case-based approach the study makes two important contributions. First, all four cases were successful in client retention and professional staff retention, yet only two cases were successful in retaining partners. This finding contradicts previous studies that found when partners leave the firm after acquisition clients follow. This research study found that clients stayed with an acquiring firm as long as their on-site project team remained more or less intact. This finding implies that social capital can be transferred between individuals and organizations. Second, a framework of organizational factors that contribute to the successful retention of social and human capital was developed. Successful retention of clients was primarily dependent on the retention of the project team (professional staff), but the robustness of the contract, the nature of the project work and sufficient communication were factors as well. Successful retention of professional staff relied upon the integration process, of which sufficient communication; goodness of organizational fit and goodness of strategic fit were factors. Successful retention of partners was based on timely communication and the importance of leadership roles for some of the acquired partners.
License granted by Megan McDougald ( on 2011-01-30T22:27:03Z (GMT): Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of the above terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis, and except as herein provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
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