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Introduction A noted scholar recently assessed downsizing as probably the most pervasive yet understudied phenomenon in the business world Cameron 1994 While we have become numbed by the near daily accounts of new layoffs a New York Times national survey finding is perhaps more telling since 1980 a family member in one-third of all US households has been laid off New York Times 1996 By some measures downsizing has failed miserably as a tool to achieve the main objective reduced costs According to a Wyatt Company survey covering the period between 1985 and 1990 89 percent of organizations which engaged in downsizing reported expense reduction as their primary goal while only 42 percent actually reduced expenses Downsizing for the sake of cost reduction alone has been intellectually as shortsighted and neglectful of what resources will be needed to increase the revenue stream of the future Hamel and Prahalad 1994 A true understanding of the forces shaping and thrusting downsizing forward today comes from an appreciation of increased global competition Changing technologies which in turn are profoundly impacting the nature of work increasing availability of a contingent work force Fierman 1994 and shifting balance of power among organizational constituents away from rank and file employees and in the direction of shareholders and the chief executives who serve as their proxy When we conceptualize downsizing within these broader frameworks it becomes clear that we are speaking of downsizing both as a response to and as a catalyst of organizational culture change Establishing a direct link between downsizing and organizational culture is not an easy matter however as the following example will demonstrate The Chief Executive Officer of Apple Computer bought himself more time with disgruntled shareholders by promising to take forceful action on a number of fronts including downsizing The executive cited five crises lack of cash declining quality a failed operating system development project Apples chaotic culture and a fragmented strategy Markoff 1997 How do
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