Academic journal article Journal of Behavioral and Applied Management

Organizational Commitment, Job Redesign, Employee Empowerment and Intent to Quit among Survivors of Restructuring and Downsizing

Academic journal article Journal of Behavioral and Applied Management

Organizational Commitment, Job Redesign, Employee Empowerment and Intent to Quit among Survivors of Restructuring and Downsizing

Article excerpt


This study is designed to determine the relationship between job redesign, employee empowerment and intent to quit measured by affective organizational commitment among survivors of organizational restructuring and downsizing. It focused on middle level managers and employees in supervisory positions because survivors of this group are often called upon to assume expanded roles, functions and responsibilities in a post restructuring and downsizing environment. The results show statistically significant positive relationships between job redesign, empowerment and affective commitment. It therefore, provides empirical data to support theoretical models for managing and mitigating survivors' intent to quit and subsequent voluntary turnover among survivors of organizational restructuring and downsizing. The implications of these findings, which suggest expanded roles for job redesign and employee empowerment, are discussed.


To cope with increased competitive pressure globalization and demand for efficiency, many organizations have come to rely on the strategy of restructuring and downsizing. The effectiveness of this strategy, however, depends, in part, on its impact on survivors' work attitudes and behaviors. Unfortunately, much of the evidence from research on survivors' work-related attitudes and behaviors subsequent to restructuring and downsizing have documented evidence of feelings of job insecurity, intent to quit, decline in organizational commitment, loyalty and trust, among others (Brockner, 1998; Brockner, Grover, Reed, DeWitt and O'Malley, 1987; Cascio, 1993; Kets de Varies and Balazs, 1997; Armstrong-Stassen, 1998; Ryan and Macky, 1998; Wager, 2001). Of these, intent to quit poses the most serious threat to the effectiveness of the restructuring and downsizing strategy because if unchecked, with appropriate organizational interventions, it leads to voluntary turnover of high performing survivors on whose long-term commitment, motivation and loyalty, the success of restructuring and downsizing depends (Mueller et al. 1984; Mone, 1994; Mishra, Spreitzer and Mishra, 1998). What is more, intent to quit is considered to be one of the most reliable predictors of voluntary turnover (Price and Mueller, 1995; Hom and Griffeth, 1995; Muller et al., 1994). This underscores the need for a conscious and structured organizational approach to the management of survivors' adverse reactions (intent to quit and subsequent voluntary turnover) to restructuring and downsizing.

Using Larzarus and Folkman's (1984) theory of stress, Mishra and Spreitzer (1998) offer a theoretical model that explains survivors' responses to downsizing. It classifies responses as either constructive or destructive and explains how they are influenced by trust, sense of justices, empowerment and job redesign. Empowerment and work redesign, they argue, influence secondary appraisal and facilitate constructive active responses because they enhance survivors' assessments of their capacity to effectivel respond to the challenges that restructuring and downsizing represent. Consequently, they respond by obeying orders, waiting willingly through good and bad times for conditions to improve in the organization, accepting the goals and objectives assigned to them by management and by actively finding ways to help the organization fulfill the objectives of the downsizing.

If this argument holds true, employee empowerment and job redesign would be related to affective organizational commitment, defined as an employee's desire to remain attached to an organization and work to help accomplish its goal (Porter et al., 1979; Mowday, Steers and Porter, 1979, p. 225). It also suggests that empowerment and job redesign can be organizational interventions that could mitigate "intent to quit" that is induced by the uncertainties that restructuring and downsizing create. This, of course, is based on the premise that constructive responses exhibited by survivors are manifestations of their desire to remain attached and work to help accomplish the goals of the organization. …

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