Sustainability and Post-Merger Integration: The Dow Chemical Company’s 2009 Acquisition of Rohm & Haas

by: Andrew Hoffman

Publication Date: March 31, 2017
Length: 24 pages
Product ID#: 1-430-512

Core Disciplines: Leadership/Organizational Behavior, Strategy & Management, Sustainability

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Teaching Note

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In 2009 Mark Weick, Director of Sustainability at The Dow Chemical Company, faced a difficult decision. Dow had spent three years working steadily toward meeting its 2015 sustainability goals, but the recent acquisition of Rohm & Haas threatened to change all that. The ongoing 2009 global recession had diminished the capital resources Dow could use to improve sustainability. The acquisition increased the size of Dow and meant that the already diminished capital would need to be stretched further and that Dow would need to improve sustainability more than anticipated. Could Dow achieve its 2015 sustainability goal of improving energy intensity by 25% over 2006? Weick had an important decision to make.  Should he adjust the 2015 energy intensity target, potentially weakening Dow’s reputation as a leader in sustainable chemistry? Or should Dow aim to meet the 2015 goals, knowing that failure to do so could damage its reputation?

Teaching Objectives

After reading and discussing the material, students should:

  • Examine how sustainability leaders prioritize projects in times of flux
  • Understand the implications of mergers and acquisitions on company dynamics, including on sustainability practitioners and financial leadership
  • Describe the impact of the Great Recession on the chemical industry and The Dow Chemical Company
  • Evaluate the role of metrics and goal setting, including their limitations, to guide corporate sustainability decision making
  • Identify the effects of sustainability targets and competing priorities on sustainability practitioners’ roles