Managing legitimacy in a cross-border post-merger integration context: the role of language strategies

Ashish Malik*, Paresha Sinha, Pawan Budhwar, Vijay Pereira

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper develops a conceptual framework of language strategies in the cross-border post-merger and acquisition (M&A) context as firms seek legitimacy for integration from their internal stakeholders. We contribute by developing a framework for advancing the debate that cross-border bidder firms employ rationalistic and nationalistic rationales to legitimise their M&A choices, including the role of language, which is an embodiment of culture to help create synergies in a post-merger integration (PMI) context. Based on our review of social identity, legitimacy, and strategic integration literature, our conceptual model outlines language strategies to achieve the twin goals of PMI and legitimising their choices. We offer a critical review of the approaches used in cross-border PMI and integrate the role of language in gaining legitimacy for the internal stakeholders, such as its impact on employees and managers. From an international human resource management perspective, we highlight the importance of language strategies for each of the four integration scenarios for the bidder and target firm employees and managers, primarily when neither the target nor the bidder firm uses English as their native language. Finally, we develop propositions to advance future research in this area. The role of international language training and other approaches is also highlighted.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4144-4174
Number of pages31
JournalInternational Journal of Human Resource Management
Issue number21
Early online date8 Aug 2023
Publication statusPublished - 8 Aug 2023

Bibliographical note

Copyright 2023 The author(s). Published by Informa UK limited, trading as Taylor & Francis group. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the creative commons attribution license (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. The terms on which this article has been published allow the posting of the accepted manuscript in a repository by the author(s) or with their consent.


  • Legitimacy
  • communication
  • cross-border
  • language strategies
  • mergers and acquisition (M&A)
  • post-merger integration


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