Impact of frequent downsizing exercises on organisational culture

WILLIAMS, Lewis Adegboyega (2021). Impact of frequent downsizing exercises on organisational culture. Doctoral, Sheffield Hallam University.

Williams_2021_DBA_ImpactOfFrequent.pdf - Accepted Version
Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

Download (2MB) | Preview
Link to published version::


Organisational downsizing has been shown to produce mixed results, more negative than positive when managers of organisations pursue short-term economic effects aimed at improving their productivity or efficiency (Cascio, 2005) without considering its organisational culture. This requisite glue that keeps organisations together. Incidentally, there is no existing research focusing specifically on the impact of frequent downsizing exercises on the all-important, continually emerging phenomenon called organisational culture, yet a range of studies have explored the core concepts of organisational culture and organisational downsizing. Hence, this study's primary theoretical focus relates to these currently established theories, extensively researched as conduits to expose their interactions and inter-relationships. Consequently, this study explored the impact of frequent downsizing exercises on the organisational culture of an international oil company operating in Nigeria, whose “cultural branding” had once been “people-oriented”. However, the organisation's attrition rate increased significantly when the company embarked on a series of “back-to-back” downsizing exercises. In addition, the sudden departure of some key staff members across the organisational strata created gaps that changed how things were done. A qualitative, inductive, and interpretative approach was used with in-depth interviews of thirteen (13) organisation members as the primary data source between 2017 and 2019 (pre-Covid-19 years). The data obtained from the semi-structured interviews were analysed using general thematic approaches. The hermeneutic phenomenology methodology permitted access to phenomena that are often subconscious and provided a means for interpreting participants' lived experiences. Findings from the study indicate that frequent downsizing generates effects (such as uncertainties, increased workload, anxiety, inattentional blindness impeding safety culture, increased turnover intentions, loss of collective organisational pursuit, etc.) which negatively impact people in organisations. Consequently, the organisation’s culture is affected, even to reputation loss and organisational death. While some themes generated were isolated and independently acting, others displayed traits of v interdependent actions that emphasised how their impact on organisational culture was exacerbated. Thus, the study produced a conceptual framework, which helps to explain how the themes interact to influence organisational culture significantly. The revelation of the depth of the impact is a significant contribution to the body of knowledge and management praxis as it helps managers of organisations to see the colossal associated social costs of frequent downsizing exercises and prevent them. This ground-breaking research thus serves as an inaugural effort in a possibly massive range of research aimed at closing the gap in the literature on the impact of frequent downsizing on organisational culture, especially in the Nigerian context.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Thesis advisor - Mcauley, John
Thesis advisor - Kubátová, Sláva
Additional Information: Director of studies: Professor John McAuley and Dr Sláva Kubátová "No PQ harvesting"
Research Institute, Centre or Group - Does NOT include content added after October 2018: Sheffield Hallam Doctoral Theses
Identification Number:
Depositing User: Colin Knott
Date Deposited: 11 Oct 2022 15:15
Last Modified: 13 Oct 2023 01:18

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics