These are two of the insights from analysis undertaken by strategy consultancy Cognosis into the cultures of each of the retailers involved in the battle for Safeway. Richard Brown, managing partner of Cognosis, says: "We analysed their cultures to see which were the matches made in heaven and which were the matches made in hell."
Morrisons and Sainsbury are the least compatible with Safeway while, perhaps surprisingly, the best cultural fits are Tesco and Asda.
Cognosis' uses the renowned Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) profiling tool that it has adapted for analysing corporate structures rather than people. Using a 36-point quantitative questionnaire, the Cognosis methodology categorises organisations into one of 16 possible profile types based on criteria that include how they handle change, deal with staff and their style of customer relationship.
It has previously worked with the likes of Allied Domecq, Diageo and IT services company CMG ­ before its merger with Logica ­ questioning senior people within the organisations. For the Safeway analysis it used eight industry experts, comprising two recruitment consultants and six senior retailers, who had previously worked within one or more of the supermarkets involved in the bidding.

Rational versus idealist
Each supermarket's characteristics will have a very different impact were it to successfully take over Safeway. Tesco falls into the Rational' category because of its forward thinking and embracing of new processes along with its willingness to introduce new systems. It is also decisive, disciplined and logical with a results-driven mindset.
Asda is Idealist' with its shoppers friend' approach, making it empathetic towards its customers. It understands its customers but this is not through data, as is the case with Tesco. It is a highly employee-responsive and people-driven organisation that is decisive and communicates its values well to both customers and staff.
Sainsbury differs greatly to both Tesco and Asda and is categorised as a Harmoniser' because of its clubby, paternalistic and conservative character. It is challenged by change and is inwardly focused. According to Brown it has had to "grapple" with this in recent years while it has gone through its major overhaul under Sir Peter Davis.
Morrisons falls into the Pragmatist' camp with its no-nonsense approach driven by past experiences. It also suffers from being inwardly focused and is bad at handling change. It can take on a finger-pointing approach when problems occur, which would lead to serious problems if it purchased Safeway.
Brown says: "It will give the people at Safeway's head office their marching orders and tell the staff in the stores to do it our way and get on with it'." Its sub-categorisation is not surprisingly Guardian'.
According to Brown this makes it the most unsuitable party to tie-up with Safeway even though the takeover target is also categorised as Pragmatist'. However, its sub-category is Fixer'. This reflects its tendency to try out new innovations but failure to give them enough time to work before searching for a fix. "They try something but when they realise it's not quite right then they move on to the next thing without having given it enough time."Putting the two businesses together will be "bloody" because Morrisons is likely to order Safeway staff to do it the Morrisons way, says Brown.
Cognosis' analysis also finds little to recommend a Sainsbury takeover. "It would be protracted and happen by osmosis with the result that staff would be either in' or out' once they realised whether they fitted in or not," says Brown.
In contrast Tesco and Asda are recognised as the preferred suitors. A Tesco takeover would probably be "surgical". "Although it would tell Safeway employees what to, do it would also explain why they should do it. This would be followed by, you like this don't you?' and if they didn't then it would be goodbye," says Brown. Tesco will convince Safeway's staff its way is rationally the right way.
Asda will achieve the same results but by "inspiring" Safeway's staff. "The visionary zealot takes the natives," suggests Brown. "Both Tesco and Asda will lay out their expectations for store level staff from day one. They will do it differently but will both be very clear about their plans," says Brown.
Even though both companies are very different they would be likely to end up with the same successful results following a takeover. Asda is in the driving seat since it does not face the same severity of competition issues facing its rival Tesco. It also has experience of integrating two companies from when it was bought by Wal-Mart.
Brown recommends: "A company on the end of takeover offers has an obligation to recommend to its shareholders one that delivers the best marriage. So if I were Safeway then I'd be saying let's get into bed with Asda on the basis of this research."
While it would never be sensible to recommend a decision of this magnitude be taken on culture alone, it surely must at least be considered by both management and shareholders when weighing up the pros and cons of any bid.