THE EFFECTS OF WORK ROLE TRANSITION ON SURVIVOR RESPONSES TO LAYOFFS
Pfaff, Kenneth M.
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This study explored the layoff experience of ten survivors of downsizing who as a result of corporate restructuring transitioned into different jobs, examining how the participants responded to the role transition and the effect it had on their downsizing experience. In addition, the research attempted to determine if and where the participants fit within the model of survivor responses to layoffs as suggested by Mishra and Spreitzer (1998). Using qualitative inquiry, in-depth semi-structured interviews were employed for data collection to uncover the participants' experiences while a two-question survey was used to determine their placement in the Mishra-Spreitzer model. The results of this research suggests that the downsizing experiences of these ten individuals were negatively impacted by a lack of trust in the organization's leadership coupled with a lack of clear, consistent, and frequent communications from that leadership. The research also identified the positive impact local managers could have on employees' attitudes toward their job and the organization in general if the local managers shared information and demonstrated they valued and appreciated those in their charge. The role transition experienced by these participants initially had a negative effect on their thoughts and attitudes toward the organization and their reaction to downsizing, however these negative effects seemed to diminish over time. The model of survivor responses to downsizing as suggested by Mishra and Spreitizer found 8 of the 10 participants thought they fit the response type in which they were placed, the remaining 2 participants did not believe they fit the response type . Recommendations for future study could include a look at communications at various levels within the organization, a comparison look at role transition through the use of a control group, and a quantitative reexamination of the Mishra and Spreitzer (1998) model.