Topic: Retention

Author(s), Title and Publication
Susskind, A. M. (2007). Downsizing Survivors’ Communication Networks and Reactions: A Longitudinal Examination of Information Flow and Turnover Intentions. Communication Research, 34(2), 156-184

This study investigated surviving employees’ reactions to changes in their communication network (e.g., network centrality) in a downsizing event, and their intentions to leave. Network centrality refers to the extent to which an employee communicates with other employees and controls the flow of information in the organizational network (e.g., central members vs. periphery members). Employees (n=130) in a hotel company’s corporate office were surveyed prior to and following an organizational downsizing. Employees’ work-related contacts, network centrality, perceptions of information adequacy, and turnover intentions were measured 60 days prior to the downsizing, and 60 days and 120 days following the downsizing.

Results indicated that the employees who gained network centrality after the downsizing event were more likely to perceive that they received adequate information. Conversely, those who lost network centrality were more aware of the information gaps and resource losses brought by the downsizing. The difference became less significant with the tightening of the network over time. Findings suggested that downsizing survivors who felt that they received inadequate information reported higher intentions to leave. In addition, employees’ reactions to the downsizing might stay negative until they perceived a sense of security and stability in the post-downsizing workplace.

Implications for Practice
Managers might reduce negative emotions and turnover intentions caused by downsizing by stabilizing organizational networks, making fewer changes to the central members’ positions, providing sufficient change information and resources to help employees through the transition, and understanding network centrality in their work units. This is yet another study that confirms the importance of ongoing and substantive communications during downsizing and other major change initiatives.

Location of Article
The article is available online at: (abstract free, purchase full article)

Heidy Modarelli handles Growth & Marketing for IPR. She has previously written for Entrepreneur, TechCrunch, The Next Web, and VentureBeat.
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