Organizational survivors: perceptions of conflict and justice during downsizing



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Texas A&M University


Downsizing has had a significant influence on organizational life over the past 20 years. When organizations downsize, two groups of people emerge, those who are laid off and those who remain in the organization. The experiences of those remaining in the organization, or the organizational survivors, have been neglected. This study presents an interpretivistic examination of the experiences of survivors with regard to their perceptions of conflict and procedural justice during and after downsizing. The data gathered for the study is based on thirty-one interviews with employees in TeleCo, a downsizing organization. TeleCo is a diversified organization with facilities and subsidiaries worldwide. In 2001, changes began taking place within the organization, one being the implementation of company-wide layoffs. Telecomm, the division highlighted in this study, has laid off 200 of the 350 workers in one facility. This study revealed three overarching categories of conflict frames employees use to make sense out of their experience as survivors. Procedural justice components of choice, voice, and feedback were also determined to influence the perceptions of survivors and their overall opinions of downsizing