Three brands, one group
The merger of Volvo Trucks with Renault VI and Mack created a new heavy goods vehicles group comprised of the Mack, Renault and Volvo brands. The three companies, which were initially merged into Volvo Global Trucks (VGT), kept their own brand identities and their distribution networks.
Volvo thus became the worlds second largest heavy goods vehicles group, with nearly 30,000 employees in 185 countries. Volvo had to tackle a unique challenge: combining the numerous talents and the experience of 3 companies with different corporate cultures. This company’s success will depend on the group’s ability to manage this cultural integration process and the ability of employees to work effectively together, according to Håkan Hallèn, Senior VP of Human Resources in charge of this ambitious project (1), in a comment made at the very beginning of this process.
In January 2001, Volvo began this process by undertaking a “cultural integration” study, the purpose of which was to identify the similarities and differences between the various corporate cultures.
To analyse and compare the cultural characteristics, ICM used a specific methodology based on a single model: “Culture Bridging Fundamentals” (CBF©). Some 150 employees from the three companies were interviewed on their vision of the merger, the situation of their own firm, its values, practices and approaches, as well as their attitudes vis-à-vis the integration. In addition to these interviews, 3,000 CBF© questionnaires and 20 working groups were used to define a precise image of the companies’ respective corporate cultures.
The objectives of the cultural integration study
The study allowed for a clear analysis of the current situation while identifying the similarities and differences between the national and corporate cultures of the three brands. It also identified the potential risks of misunderstanding that could hinder co-operation between the companies and helped Volvo to highlight those cultural differences that could make a positive contribution to diversity within the company.
Accordingly, this study facilitated the development and negotiation of a common vision on the approach needed to mitigate the various cultural differences.