Linda Brewster Stearns, professor of sociology at the University of California, Riverside, will write a book explaining the four great merger waves that arose between 1890 and 1990. Rather than assessing the success of mergers for the individual firms involved, Stearns will study the merger wave as a whole. Firms rarely benefit from acquiring other firms, but the individual managers, investment bankers, and lawyers who handle the merger often reap substantial rewards. Stearns will show that up-and-coming firms with little stake in the status quo will experiment with mergers if there is ready access to capital and a permissive antitrust environment. Their innovations and occasional successes then prompt other firms, including well-established corporations, to emulate them, culminating in a merger bandwagon.