“Downsizing is not a temporary trend” (Appelbaum & Donia, 2001). This statement underlines what is nowadays a common practice used by businesses in response to competitive threats, advancements in technology and market demands (Sahdev, 2004). Up to 1997, Kodak downsized five times, eliminating a total of 12,000 jobs. The results were costs of $2.1billion, decreasing profit margins and poor stock performance (Appelbaum, Delage, Labib & Gault, 1997). Researchers define these negative outcomes as a productivity paradox, because the benefits of downsizing are offset by the following cost increases (Appelbaum et al., 1997). One reason for this paradox is the decrease in organizational productivity, which results from negative reactions developed by the employees who survive the downsizing (termed the survivors). This phenomena is called the survivor syndrome. Companies frequently neglect the needs of surviving employees following a downsizing process; as a result, “those who leave become survivors, and those who stay become victims” (Appelbaum & Donia, 2000, p.333). According to Appelbaum and Donia (2000; 2001), there is one core factor causing the survivor syndrome: the lack of effective communication. The authors propose a model, called the Realistic Downsizing Preview, which addresses the issues of the syndrome through communicating information prior to the layoff.
Based on these findings, this paper attempts to analyse whether the ultimate cause of the survivor syndrome lies in the lack of communication, and whether the syndrome can therefore be prevented by establishing what Andrzejewski (2008) calls a Trennungs-kultur. Literally, this concept means culture of separation, which defines the culture an organization should develop in order to effectively manage survivors’ needs in a downsizing process, and which is founded on the constant management of information.
In order to answer... [continues]
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