Extending research on the effect of experience on acquisition outcomes, we examine how the differential in previous M&A experience between the target and the acquirer affects the value they respectively obtain when the acquirer takes over the target. Drawing on literature about organizational learning, negotiation and information economics, we theorize that the party with greater experience will be able to obtain more value. Furthermore, we theorize that the effect of differential M&A experience on value obtained is contingent on the level of information asymmetry the acquirer faces with respect to the target, specifically as a function of the target's product-market scope and whether the deal is friendly. We test and find support for these predictions in a sample of 1,241 M&As over a 30-year period.
Corporate strategy is about a firm's scope and development decisions and outcomes, but corporate strategizing is incomplete unless managers anticipate the moves of other economic actors. We demonstrate the importance of these points when it comes to learning to make acquisitions. Using an innovative research design and theory that enables comparison between acquirer and target gains, we show that whatever their firm's acquisition history and capabilities, acquisitive managers should mind the negotiation and other pitfalls that arise when target firms possess ample acquisition experience of their own. We also demonstrate that the effect of experience advantage, whereby the more experienced party benefits, depends on the target firm's scope and whether the deal is friendly – two dimensions that acquirers can and should take into account.