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Survivors of redundancy: a justice perspective

By Fiona Campbell


Organisations in and around Britain continue to restructure and downsize their workforce.\ud Redundancies and reorganisation of staff remains a major aspect of internal organisational change.\ud However, the effects of redundancy on those who remain, the survivors, are still little understood\ud (Armstrongstassen, 1993a). This paper attempts to rectify this situation by reviewing theories\ud principally developed in North America within a British context. In particular, the research identifies\ud how organisational justice theories (e.g., Bies et al, 1988; Greenberg, 1990; McFarlin & Sweeney,\ud 1992) are a means to understand the potential effects on survivors of redundancy.\ud The literature review is supported by empirical research which has been conducted in two major\ud British organisations who have experienced significant downsizing and restructuring. The research\ud aim was to explore the range of reactions; emotional attitudinal and behavioural which were\ud experienced by the survivors of a redundancy programme. Data was collected using a variety of\ud methods, including focus groups, in-depth semi-structured interviews and a company wide survey in\ud both case study organisations. The results enabled the development of a conceptual framework which\ud extends previous understanding of the effects of redundancy on survivors. The conceptual framework\ud draws together the current findings with previous research in this field formulating an overview of the\ud factors which influence survivor reactions. Understanding survivor reactions helps to further the\ud knowledge of the potentially damaging effects of redundancy on the future of an organisation.\ud The results indicate that organisational justice theories indeed promote the understanding of the\ud effects of redundancy. In previous studies the emphasis has been laid on distributive and procedural\ud justice (e.g., Daly & Geyer, 1994; Brockner & Greenberg, 1990), however, the current study\ud highlights the importance of interactional justice. The results suggest that survivors reactions are\ud particularly dependent on the interpersonal treatment they receive from both the management team\ud and their immediate line manager or supervisor. Further analysis shows that the communication and\ud amount of interaction a survivor receives from their line manager influences their level of\ud organisational commitment, job insecurity, job satisfaction and turnover intention. Survivors who\ud perceived they had a 'good' relationship with their line manager were less likely to react negatively to\ud the redundancy programme. The research also indicates that survivors were influenced by their work\ud environment and their work colleagues. The analysis found that when survivors perceived their work\ud colleagues to react negatively to the redundancies, they were more likely to react negatively\ud themselves.\ud In practical terms, when implementing redundancies, management should be aware of the potentially\ud damaging effects not only on those who leave, but also on the survivors. The research indicates that\ud the 'line manager' holds a very important role in maintaining the morale and motivation of the\ud remaining staff. The ability to maintain good communication and support to employees can help in\ud the future success of the organisation. The framework developed in this study builds on previous research and introduces new variables found to be important in the field

Topics: Redundancy, Downsizing, Restructuring, Survivors, Workforce
Publisher: University of Wolverhampton
Year: 1999
OAI identifier:

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