Basically, a joint venture is when two or more companies make an agreement to do business in one specific area. They can share the insurance, shipping and liability costs and produce higher profits. It is usually a short lived collaboration. A merger is when two companies come together to form a single company. They combine their respective resources. Sometimes there are losses of jobs, but not all. Those decisions are specified in the merger contract well in advance of the deal. An acquisition is when one company is buying and taking over another. If it is friendly, often the seller can stipulate who keeps their job and so forth. If it is unfriendly, the company taking over gets to make all the final decisions. They cannot take away benefits already earned.