When American retail giant Walmart acquired online retailer jet.com last year it hit the headlines because of the $3.3 bn price tag. Subsequently, the merged companies have been in the news because of the ongoing clash between their two corporate cultures (for instance in the Wall Street Journal 25 June 2017). Both organisations have had strong cultures. Walmart, based in Arkansas, is long-established, conservative, and somewhat bureaucratic; whereas jet.com was a dynamic, Silicon Valley style tech company.
Immediately after the merger, Walmart imposed its own standards on jet.com with regards specific aspects of work behaviour, and in particular the availability and consumption of alcohol in jet.com offices (described in one article as “unconventional office amenities”). For jet.com employees, happy hours and booze were part of the way they did things – they worked long hours in a high pressure environment and it was one of the ways they reduced stress. Subsequently, Walmart has realised that a complete ban on alcohol was having a detrimental effect on jet.com staff morale, so it has relaxed its approach by allowing for after hours “celebrations of success”.
Smith’s article on inc.com tells you more about this story and suggests three ways in which merging organisations can facilitate each others cultures – focus on core principles, be open and transparent about cultural issues, and accept that both organisations may have to adapt.