There’s definitely a heavy element of “it depends.” The larger the companies involved, the longer the timetable, but if we’re talking “ideal,” my opinion is as follows:
* If you’re making cuts, do that on Day 1, or as close as possible. Doing it once and then putting it behind you to build the new organization is tough, but it’s a lot tougher to deal with the slow bleed due to people leaving out of uncertainty (or being unproductive due to flagging motivation).
* Many proposals I’ve seen indicate that 180 days should be sufficient to do the heavy lifting of integration; while there will be ongoing maintenance and support afterward, by then the “new normal” should largely be in place. Again, that tends to throttle up or down according to the size.
I think there is some tolerance for larger companies taking longer to complete, but there’s also a sense that larger companies have more resources to commit… unless you’re talking about mega-mergers with multinational companies, I’d think the bulk of acquisitions would be completed in a year or less.