The importance of transforming business models and activities toward a sustainable economy is more urgent than ever and manifests in the adoption of international agreements and regulatory initiatives. Company transactions, including mergers and acquisitions (M&A), need to pay attention to sustainability concepts and their implications. Consequently, the current and traditional literature on M&A processes acknowledges the role of sustainability as a prerequisite for success in M&A operations. However, reviews of the relationship between sustainability and M&A from an integrative perspective that highlight the pre- and post-deal stages are limited. To bring further transparency to this context, we perform a systematic review of the academic literature on the relevance and implications of sustainability in M&A, focusing on archival studies. We present an overview of major sustainability influences at different stages of the M&A process, using the perspective of the acquirer as well as the target of sustainability. We observe that in all analyzed pre- and post-deal stages, sustainability is identified as having an impact or being impacted by M&A activities. Accordingly, practitioners’ strategic consideration of sustainability for deal origination and performance is required. Furthermore, we highlight several understudied factors and create a research agenda, as research findings are, to some extent, heterogeneous and limited.
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