Original Research

Psychosocial factors influencing change management: An African cross-border acquisition case

Annelize van Niekerk
SA Journal of Human Resource Management | Vol 21 | a2279 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajhrm.v21i0.2279 | © 2023 Annelize van Niekerk | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 22 March 2023 | Published: 31 October 2023

About the author(s)

Annelize van Niekerk, Department of Industrial and Organisational Psychology, College of Economic and Management Sciences, University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa


Orientation: Cross-border acquisitions are instrumental in international businesses’ expansions, even though 70% fail. This necessitates risk and change management as driving forces. The context of this case study is within a change management initiative implementation during a cross-border acquisition between a global organisation and its African subsidiary.

Research purpose: The study explored the psychosocial factors that influence the successful implementation of a change management initiative. Also, recommendations are made towards mitigating psychosocial risks that should be incorporated as part of a well-thought-through change management initiative and process, in a multifaceted Africa context.

Motivation for the study: To understand the psychosocial factors posing a risk and becoming impeding factors within a multifaceted African merger and during a cross-border change management initiative.

Research approach/design and method: A qualitative approach and case study design, adopting a hermeneutic phenomenological paradigm, was applied. Data were collected through semi-structured interviews and analysed using Tesch’s content analysis.

Main findings: Having an awareness of psychosocial factors influencing change initiatives, requires interconnectedness and co-construction, to enable successful implementation, while mitigating risk. The African context greatly values culture, relationship, trust, respect, and collaboration. Thus, risk cannot be managed without managing change and contrariwise.

Practical/managerial implications: In multifaceted Africa, the importance of stakeholder inclusion and engagement are highlighted, and the importance of stakeholder and task integration towards mitigating risks and modifying psychosocial behaviour are emphasised.

Contribution/value-add: Substantive evidence enables a better understanding of psychological risk factors impeding change within a multifaceted environment. Interconnectedness and co-construction enable effective risk mitigation and change implementation.


change management; psychosocial behaviour; cross-border acquisition; risk management; qualitative research; hermeneutic phenomenological research

JEL Codes

M50: General; M51: Firm Employment Decisions • Promotions; M59: Other

Sustainable Development Goal

Goal 8: Decent work and economic growth


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