Organizational change, restructuring and downsizing: The experience of employees in the electric utility industry

2009 2009

Other formats: Order a copy

Abstract (summary)

This research examines the experience of employees working in the electric utility industry during a time when it was undergoing significant transformation. It was undertaken to examine this phenomenon in the context of how the history and nature of the industry’s environment, and specifically regulatory effect of regulation, led to an organizational form characterized by stability, structure and inertial resistance to change. A case study approach was used to examine the effect of deregulation on an organization in the industry, and specifically how their actions impacted employees working there.

A phenomenological approach was used to explore employee perceptions of the organizational culture and employment relationship there both prior to and after implementation of a reorganization and downsizing that resulted in the first significant employee layoffs in the history of the organization. Data gathering consisted of conducting semi-structured interviews with current and former employees of the company who experienced the phenomena.

Analysis of the data show that employees in this organization perceived an unusually strong psychological contract for stable employment and the expectation that it would continue, despite the prevalence of corporate downsizing and restructuring at the time. This psychological contract and the importance of career employment was found to be particularly significant for women who were hired during a period of time when gender and pregnancy discrimination was prevalent. Findings demonstrate that, given the historical stability and strong inertial resistance in the organization, company leadership did not effectively communicate the need, or prepare employees sufficiently for the significance of the changes or the effect they had on the organization. Findings also revealed that employees perceived the methods used to select individuals for layoff and exit from the company violated principles of organizational justice for distributional, procedural, and interactional fairness.

This research illustrates the need for leaders to consider the culture in their organizations and its readiness for change prior to implementation of significant transformation.

Indexing (details)

Labor relations;
Organizational behavior
0629: Labor relations
0703: Organizational behavior
Identifier / keyword
Social sciences; Downsizing; Electric utility industry; Organizational change; Organizations; Psychological contracts; Restructuring; Utilities; Workplace justice
Organizational change, restructuring and downsizing: The experience of employees in the electric utility industry
Korns, Michael T.
Number of pages
Publication year
Degree date
School code
DAI-A 70/04, Dissertation Abstracts International
Place of publication
Ann Arbor
Country of publication
United States
Hildebrandt, Melanie D.
Committee member
Heckert, Daniel A.; Nowak, Thomas C.
Indiana University of Pennsylvania
University location
United States -- Pennsylvania
Source type
Dissertations & Theses
Document type
Dissertation/thesis number
ProQuest document ID
Database copyright ProQuest LLC; ProQuest does not claim copyright in the individual underlying works.
Document URL
Access the complete full text

You can get the full text of this document if it is part of your institution's ProQuest subscription.

Try one of the following:

  • Connect to ProQuest through your library network and search for the document from there.
  • Request the document from your library.
  • Go to the ProQuest login page and enter a ProQuest or My Research username / password.