Intensive occupational downsizing : an empirical study of the causes, prevalence and implications of downsizing among professionals in large private firms in Australia 1990 to 1999
Downsizing has been an important dimension of organisational restructuring across
most OECD economies during the 1990s. Most research has focused on downsizing as
an independent variable. Little research has examined downsizing as a dependent
variable and even less has focused on the downsizing of occupational groups within
organisations. This thesis focuses on the prevalence and causes of intensive
occupational downsizing among professionals.
Following a critique and development of a new measure of intensive occupational
downing, two theoretical perspectives are examined. The first is an economic `costs'
perspective that centres on key characteristics of firms and their environments. The
second theoretical perspective comprises the new institutional approach that emphasises
the legitimacy and diffusion of downsizing as a managerial fad or fashion. The thesis
attempts to assess the explanatory weight of the two theoretical perspectives in relation
to the decade of downsizing trends in Australia from 1990.
The research undertaken has uniquely developed an original longitudinal dataset of over
4000 organisations. For each organisation, ten years of specific structural information is
recorded. This thesis represents an empirical examination of the causes of organisational
downsizing using a large longitudinal datasetThe results indicate that intensive occupational downsizing impacts on all occupational
groups, consistent with international research. Moreover, the results indicate that
conventional measures of downsizing have underestimated its prevalence, due primarily
to limitations in its measurement.
Focusing on professionals, the substantive results indicate that both economic and
institutional factors play a role in causing downsizing among the firms examined.
However, economic factors play a more significant role in the analysis