Academic journal article New Zealand Journal of Psychology

Antecedents of Job Insecurity in Restructuring Organisations: An Empirical Investigation

Academic journal article New Zealand Journal of Psychology

Antecedents of Job Insecurity in Restructuring Organisations: An Empirical Investigation

Article excerpt

This study sought to expand upon the extant research on job insecurity as a multidimensional construct, and investigate potential antecedents in restructuring contexts. The objectives were threefold: first, to explore relationships between perceived organisational support, perceived employability, role ambiguity and role overload, neuroticism, and job insecurity (importance and probability dimensions); second, to examine variation in levels of these antecedents across restructuring stages (pre-, during, and post-restructuring) and across contract types (permanent vs. temporary); and third, to investigate the unique impact of restructuring stage, contract types, and attitudinal variables on job insecurity dimensions. Data were collected from a sample of 100 employees from several restructuring organisations in New Zealand. Perceived organisational support, perceived employability, role overload, neuroticism, and contract type emerged as significant predictors of job insecurity dimensions. Implications for researchers and practitioners are discussed.

Working life has witnessed dramatic changes with respect to career structures and work environments, including increasing number of women in the workforce, job complexity, aging workforce, and continuous introduction of new technologies. These changes, in addition to rapidly changing consumer markets and escalated demands for flexibility, have forced organisations to engage in various adaptive strategies in order to survive and remain competitive (Sverke, Hellgren & Naswall, 2006). These strategies involve "outsourcings, privatizations, mergers and acquisitions, often in combination with personnel reductions through layoffs, offers of early retirement, and increased utilization of subcontracted workers" (Sverke et al., 2006, p. 3). Organisations worldwide have undergone massive restructuring initiatives for the past decade, frequently resulting in downsizing or changes to employment conditions, a trend amplified by the recent global financial crisis.

Downsizing has been one of the most common strategies employed by organisations tackling the new demands of the current economic climate, and it consists of reducing the workforce or eliminating jobs in an effort to improve organisational performance (Kets, de Vries, & Balazs 1997; Sverke et al., 2006). This type of reorganisation strategy tends to create feelings of uncertainty with respect to the survival of the organisation as a whole, the future of the employees' present job, or the preservation of valued job features. These organisational transformations have brought the issue of insecure working conditions to the forefront and, as a result, job insecurity emerged as one of the most important issues in contemporary work life, a phenomenon that has become frequently studied among scholars and researchers (Sverke & Hellgren, 2002; Sverke, Hellgren & Naswall, 2002). Despite the growing interest in this construct, the extant research has focused mainly on the outcomes of job insecurity, including worker attitudes, health outcomes, job performance, and turnover (Probst, Stewart, Gruys, & Tierney, 2007; Reisel, Chia, Maloles, & Slocum, 2007; Sora, Caballer, Peir[o'], & de Witte, 2009; Staufenbiel & Konig, 2010), with little attention paid to its antecedents beyond the role of organisational communication and demographic variables (Kinnunen, Mauno, Natti, & Happonen, 2000). Furthermore, while it has been suggested that employee evaluations regarding specific job insecurity dimensions will be contingent on organisational context, particularly at different stages of change (Mauno, Leskinen, & Kinnunen, 2001), few studies have considered restructuring impact, contract type, and change implementation stage in job insecurity research (for exceptions, see De Cuyper, Notelaers, & De Witte, 2009, Probst, 2003; and Swanson & Power, 2001). Lastly, job insecurity studies have mainly been conducted in Northern European settings, framed by the Scandinavian tradition of Worker Well-Being and Occupational Health research. …

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