Case | HBS Case Collection | July 2002 (Revised December 2002)

Mercer Management Consulting (A)

by Thomas J. DeLong and Michael Echenberg


Insurance giant Marsh & McLennan acquires management consulting firms Temple, Barker & Sloane (TBS) in 1987 and Strategic Planning Associates (SPA) in 1990 and sets out to merge the two. The merger proceeds slowly and painfully. Following the February 1990 merger, George Overholser and Ware Adams face difficult decisions. Overholser, a principal at Mercer, must decide how to meet the challenge of leading an effort to integrate the two firms. Adams, a Mercer associate, must decide whether to leave the firm to join Dean & Co., a spin-off recently founded by former partners Dean Wilde and Dean Silverman. Overholser, who had also been invited to join the Deans, had already declined the offer when the case opens. Overholser, Adams, Wilde, and Silverman are all formerly of SPA, a firm whose culture and business model differed markedly from that of TBS. Walker Lewis, founder of SPA, arrived at the terms "industry knowledge consulting" and "expertise consulting" to describe TBS's approach and "analytical consulting" and "model-driven consulting" to describe SPA's.

Keywords: Mergers and Acquisitions; Business Model; Decision Making; Organizational Culture; Personal Development and Career; Horizontal Integration; Consulting Industry;


DeLong, Thomas J., and Michael Echenberg. "Mercer Management Consulting (A)." Harvard Business School Case 403-009, July 2002. (Revised December 2002.)