The Human Cost of a Management Failure: Organizational Downsizing at General Hospital

By Seth Allcorn; Howell S.Baum et al. | Go to book overview

Chapter 4

Case Interpretations and Overview

The interviews presented in Chapter 3 are filled with a rich and somewhat distressing story about change. This chapter is devoted to understanding the nature of the story from a psychologically informed perspective. The three case consultants offer their insights into what is happening to the employees of General Hospital. The first author concludes the chapter with an overview of the work of the three consultants and the case developed thus far.


INTERPRETATION BY HOWELL BAUM

Themes

No special psychoanalytic sensibility is needed to understand what has happened in this hospital. In response to concerns about the hospital’s profitability, senior management called in consultants, who recommended a change process that started with cutbacks and firings. (Downsizing is both a bad euphemism and bad English.) People who did not know whether they would be fired and who were not privy to decision making became anxious, angry, suspicious, and stressed. There is no puzzle here.


Significance and Hypotheses

Anyone who has ever been a patient might also be struck by the virtual absence of any discussion of patient care in staff interviews. Perhaps staff are too anxious about their own well-being to think about others, including the hospital’s clients. Perhaps these middle and se-

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