Survivors’ Perspectives of Organizational Downsizing on Knowledge Sharing in a Downsized Environment


Organizational workforce reductions can negatively affect a company’s ability to preserve its knowledge base. The problem researched in this study was the perceived effect of downsizing on knowledge sharing among surviving employees. The purpose of this study was to determine the perceived effect of downsizing on knowledge sharing. Survivors’ knowledge sharing behavior was examined in relation to 1) survivor syndrome, 2) attitude towards knowledge sharing, and 3) perceived loss of knowledge power. A quantitative correlation research design was used to investigate the relationship between downsizing and knowledge sharing. A web-based survey was used to collect data. The convenience sample consisted of 37 management employees in the Texas region of a management consultant organization. Three sets of variables were examined: 1) survivor syndrome and actual knowledge sharing behavior, 2) survivors’ attitudes toward knowledge sharing and actual knowledge sharing behavior, and 3) perceived loss of knowledge power and actual knowledge sharing behavior. Findings from a Spearman rank order correlation revealed a statistically significant positive correlation between perceived loss of knowledge power and actual knowledge sharing behavior. Understanding survivors’ reactions can assist with planning for future reductions, and lead to the development of training programs to counter the challenges.

Share and Cite:

Hall, P. (2012). Survivors’ Perspectives of Organizational Downsizing on Knowledge Sharing in a Downsized Environment. Open Journal of Leadership, 1, 17-21. doi: 10.4236/ojl.2012.14004.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


[1] Ajzen, I., & Fishbein, M. (1980). Understanding attitudes and predicting social behavior. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.
[2] Appelbaum, S. H., Close, T. G., & Klasa, S. (1999). Downsizing: An examination of some successes and more failures. Management Decision, 37, 424-436. doi:10.1108/00251749910274207
[3] Baltazar, H. (2001). Knowledge management has a human side. eWeek, 18, 74-79.
[4] Bartlett, C. A., & Wozny, M. (2002). GE’s two-decade transformation: Jack Welch’s leadership. Allston, MA: Harvard Business School.
[5] Baruch, Y., & Hind, P. (1999). Perpetual motion in organizations: Effective management and the impact of the new psychological contracts on “survivor syndrome”. European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology, 8, 295-306. doi:10.1080/135943299398375
[6] Beagrie, S. (2005). How to manage demotivated employees. Personnel Today, 31-32.
[7] Bhattacharya, S., & Chatterjee, L. (2005). Organizational downsizing: From concepts to practices. The Journal for Decision Makers, 30, 65-78.
[8] Davenport, T. H., & Prusak, L. (2000). Working knowledge: How organizations manage what they know (pp. 1-7). Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press.
[9] Fishbein, M. & Ajzen, I. (1975). Belief, attitude, intention, and behavior: An introduction to theory and research. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.
[10] Fisher, S. R., & White, M. A. (1997). Downsizing and organizational learning: A question of compatibility. Academy of Management Proceedings, 25, 454-458. doi:10.5465/AMBPP.1997.4989390
[11] Ford, D. P. (2004). Knowledge sharing: Seeking to understand intentions and actual sharing. (Doctoral dissertation, University at Kingston, 2004). Dissertation Abstracts International, 66, 536.
[12] Gibbert, M., & Krause, H. (2002). Practice exchange in a best practice marketplace. In T. H. Davenport, & G. J. B. Probst (Eds.), Knowledge Management Case Book: Siemens Best Practices (pp. 89-105). Erlangen: Publicis Corporate Publishing.
[13] Henkoff, R. (1994). Getting beyond downsizing. Fortune, 129, 58-64.
[14] Ipe, M. (2003). Knowledge sharing in organizations: A conceptual framework. Human Resource Development Review, 2, 337-359. doi:10.1177/1534484303257985
[15] Kankanhalli, A., Tan, B., & Wei, K. (2005). Contributing knowledge to electronic knowledge repositories: An empirical investigation. MIS Quarterly, 20, 113-143.
[16] Lee, H. & Choi, B. (2003). Knowledge management enablers, processes, and organizational performance: An integrative view and empirical examination. Journal of Management Information Systems, 20, 179-288.
[17] Lesser, E. & Prusak, L. (2001). Preserving knowledge in an uncertain world. MIT Sloan Management Review, 43, 101-102.
[18] Leung, A. S. M., & Chang, L. M. K. (2002). Organizational downsizing: Psychological impact on surviving managers in Hong Kong. Asia Pacific Business Review, 8, 76-94. doi:10.1080/713999149
[19] Linn, A. (2012). Who’s announced most job cuts: Uncle Sam? URL (last checked 29 May 2012).
[20] Lu, L., Leung, K., & Koch, P. (2006). Managerial knowledge sharing: The role of individual, interpersonal, and organizational factors. Management and Organization Review, 2, 15-41. doi:10.1111/j.1740-8784.2006.00029.x
[21] Managing successful downsizing. (2002). Corporate Finance, 208, 21-22.
[22] Noer, D. M. (1993). Healing the wounds: Overcoming the trauma of layoffs and revitalizing downsized organizations. San Francisco, CA: Josssey Bass.
[23] Pater, R. (2001). Boosting performance in these changing and pressured times. American Salesman, 46, 10-16.
[24] Rubenstein, A., & Geisler, E. (2003). Installing and managing knowledge management systems. Hartford, CT: Greenwood.
[25] Sitlington, H. (2008). Impact of downsizing, restructuring, and knowledge sharing on retention of knowledge in organizations: Implications for organizational effectiveness. URL (last checked 18 January 2009).
[26] Wright, P. (1998). Toward a unifying framework for exploring fit and flexibility in strategic human resource management. Academic Management Review, 23, 756-772.

Copyright © 2024 by authors and Scientific Research Publishing Inc.

Creative Commons License

This work and the related PDF file are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.