Who Goes, Who Stays? (HBR Case Study)

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The merger announcement between DeWaal Pharmaceuticals and BioHealth Labs was front-page news. Two months later, the press had moved on to a new story, and the hard labor of integration loomed. CEO Steve Lindell had worked tirelessly to clear regulatory hurdles, and all signs pointed toward approval in the near future. Now Steve was feeling pressure to attack the real challenge of the merger: bringing together two very different cultures as quickly and efficiently as possible. DeWaal was an established drugmaker based in the Netherlands, and BioHealth, headquartered just north of New York City, had in recent years become competitive at the highest tier of the market. The first step in integrating the two companies was to select the top layers of management for the new company. At the moment, there were some 120 people on two continents for about 65 senior-level jobs. Steve’s urgency was not without cause: talented people from both sides were jumping ship, and BioHealth’s stock price had dipped 20% after the initial euphoria over the deal had worn off. As the two men attempt to work through the important personnel issues during a lunch meeting, they quickly hit a roadblock. How can they come to agreement about who goes and who stays? In R0101A and R0101Z, commentators David Kidd, Lawrence J. DeMonaco, Grant Freeland, and Patrick O’Sullivan offer advice on this fictional case.