Mergers and acquisitions involve many challenges for an organization’s human resource professionals. At the very least, challenges include: the need to integrate different pay and grading systems, staffing structures, and performance assessment methods. Increasingly, as the number of mergers and acquisitions grows, HR specialists find themselves confronted with these challenges.

According to the Bloomberg 2012 M&A Outlook, more than 24,700 deals were conducted globally in the year ending November 2011. The challenges involved in mergers prove insurmountable for many organizations, as reflected in failure rates that are reported to be between 40 and 70 percent of all deals. A growing body of research suggests that it is most often the people-related aspects of mergers that prove most difficult to resolve. For example, in one international survey of 132 senior executives, more than half reported incompatible cultures to be the principal cause of a failed merger they had been involved with.

Managing the people-related aspects of change is the forte of human resource specialists, suggesting that an expanded role for the human resource function may be a critical success factor in mergers and integrations. By adopting an “art and science of transformation” approach to mergers and acquisitions, organizations can better understand the opportunities and risk factors inherent in the change, and how human resource expertise can help maximize value.