Mergers and acquisitions (M&A) in the public research sector. Towards a comprehensive typology

Barbara Heller-Schuh, Benedetto Lepori, Martina Neuländtner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


While the literature on firm mergers and acquisitions (M&A) is quite extensive, systematic approaches to analyze mergers in the public research sector are still scarce and focus only on the higher education sector. This article provides, for the first time, systematic empirical evidence on the extent and characteristics of M&A in public-sector research in Europe, by building on a novel dataset comprising demographic events since the year 2000. The goal of this study is to characterize such events in terms of organizations involved, types of events, and regional distribution. We find that M&A constituted a major change process within European public research. Nearly 400 events occurred in Europe between 2000 and 2016 with an increasing trend over time; M&A involved nearly one-fifth of public-sector research organizations and were geographically distributed across two-fifths of all European regions. Demographic events concerned primarily specialist institutions and to a larger extent public research entities and colleges. While the strong involvement of colleges was expected from the literature, for the first time we can show the extensive restructuring which took place in the public research entity sector. On the contrary, well known and prestigious university mergers, largely driven by the quest for international visibility, constituted only 10% of the events. Finally, we identified six broad groups of events characterized in terms of two dimensions, i.e. whether the involved organizations are active on the same or different markets and the extent of overlap between subject offerings.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)366-367
Number of pages2
JournalResearch Evaluation
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Research Field

  • Innovation Dynamics and Modelling


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